La Verne City Council updated on Claremont water proposal

Imani Tate, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Sept 13, 2015

LA VERNE >> Wanting to put more perimeters in place, La Verne municipal managers brought the City Council up to date on possible operating of the Claremont water system if that city acquires the system from Golden State Water Co.

The update was given by City Manager Bob Russi, Public Works Director Dan Keesey and City Attorney Robert Kress in a special council study session last week. They had the dual intention of relaying as much information as possible to their council now and preparing an agreement for tentative approval at the Sept. 21 council meeting. The La Verne approval is predicated on similar approval by the Claremont council, Russi said.

Kress said a trial hearing has been set in March to determine if Claremont had the right to take the Golden State system in Claremont by eminent domain, identify the public benefit by acquiring the Golden State system, consider the correct appraisal amount of the system, establish an acquisition price and resolve other matters between Claremont and Golden State.

Claremont spokeswoman Bevin Handel said that trial date was March 7.

Kress, Russi and Keesey stressed La Verne was staying out of the political and legal business between Claremont and Golden State, They said their city’s job was to identify operational matters only for La Verne to run the water system for Claremont, a task they agreed was a massive effort.

“There will be a lot of work on our end before and if Claremont acquires the system,” Keesey said. “We have to develop staff, identify things within the scope of operation and show we have the wherewithal to actually operate a system for Claremont.”

Responding to their concerns about finances, Russi assured the council that Claremont would reimburse La Verne for expenses associated with work for water operations. He and Keesey also said the proposal mandates a minimum 5-year contract because of the massive investment of time, expertise and operation. If the contract is terminated early for whatever reason by either La Verne or Claremont, the termination will be phased.

“They can’t just fire us and say you’re gone,” Keesey said.

La Verne would hire 15 new employees who would actually work for it and receive full health, pension and vacation accural benefits as do other employees. However, those 15 would be restricted to Claremont water operation duties. If the contract is terminated, the agreement requires Claremont to take these employees in good standing and hire them for at least two years as Claremont municipal employees or staffers of the new water operating agency, Keesey said.

The water employees hired to run the Claremont system would not have bumping rights over other La Verne city workers, Russi stressed.

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