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Opinion – Editorial

Opinion – Editorial

BY DALE WILEY

ReElect Beth Gatchell and Nate Russel to the Crooked River Ranch Water Company Board of Directors.

 

I am Dale Wiley, a current member of the Crooked River Ranch Water Company Board of Directors and Crooked River Ranch property owner for 7 years and resident for 4 years.
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I want to take a moment of your time to clarify some things regarding statements that a current candidate and his team / campaign partner for Crooked River Ranch Water Company Board of Directors has made in their campaign statements.
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These are my personal opinions and observations and are not an official position or opinion of the Crooked River Ranch Water Company or its Board of Directors.
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In noting that Team Schneider / Inman campaign seems to now be a team effort, we can assume that Mr. Inman also agrees with Mr. Schneiders approach and public views, as most team members would. Mr. Schneider made a questionable statement in his campaign statement, and this statement could be perceived as a material misrepresentation of fact.
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Mr. Schneider in his usual adversarial style of public relations, states he has the financial and business management skills to guide a small business like the water company.
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Mr. Schneider then impinges two current Board members as being responsible for the 31% rate increase recently approved by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission. Mr. Schneider presents this information out of context as usual.
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The water company has not had an increase in rates since 2015, a period of 8 years. The members and residents enjoyed flat rates on their water for that period. The 31% rate increased when annualized over the 8 years is an effective annual increase of 3.8 % per year. That 3.8% is well within most businesses’ expected rate or price increases in a given year, if indexed to CPI or other inflationary indexes.
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Mr. Schneiders expectations and assertions that this is somehow excessive is easily dis proven by simple math which he chooses to ignore.
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The 8 years between rate increases is unusual, and timely rate adjustments will be required to reflect more accurate cost recovery as the water company Board will continue to watch the increases in our operating expenses. In any case, future increases can be expected to be indexed to an appropriate inflationary or combination of indexes that will reflect the appropriate rates needed and will be determined by the Oregon Public Utilities Commission in an open public process.
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I would ask Mr. Schneider in running his business, did he ever have to increase prices to cover rising input costs or was he able to run the businesses over an extended time frame and never adjust rates or prices?

It should also be noted that Mr. Schneider was an CRR HOA Board member for three years, and that he voted for every HOA dues increase in that time frame.

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In looking at HOA dues increases, the HOA raised their dues over 40% in that same 8-year time frame, which is well above the water rate increases. Mr. Schneider was also part of the HOA Board of Directors when the CRR HOA Board sued the Crooked River Ranch Water Company for additional revenue from the cellular leases.
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The CRR HOA did prevail in mediation on that case and was awarded an additional percentage of the revenue from those leases, resulting in reduced income to the water Company from an existing company asset. Mr. Schneider feels he can criticize others for doing exactly what he and the HOA Board did themselves.
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The CRR HOA Board of Directors and Mr. Schneider worked to increase the costs to the water company, and the legal fees incurred as a result of the CRR HOA lawsuit were then passed on to the member / ratepayers of the Company in this current rate increase as directed and allowed by the Oregon Public Utilities commission.

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Mr. Schneider states in his campaign statement that the water company spent over $ 240,000 on new trucks and adding staff to replace a $ 2,000 a month contractor. This statement is not correct, and completely out of context. The water company did have to scale up to replace the services formerly provided by Avion Water Company.
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The $ 2,000 a month contract with Avion was a retainer / availability contract that allowed the water company to call upon Avion at moments notice for repair and maintenance services.

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This is or was a fairly common practice in the water industry where these smaller companies were able to receive services that they were not able to execute themselves, due to the financial restraints of owning the trucks, excavators and other capital equipment required to ensure the constant security of the company’s water delivery system.
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The current ongoing low availability of qualified contractors in the market place made it necessary for the water company to bring those services in house to ensure the ability to provide the needed services required to maintain the integrity and delivery of the product to our members.
In the event additional services in repair operations were required by the water company they were billed at rates above and beyond the $ 2,000 a month retainer.
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The billings would include any equipment required, additional manpower, traffic controls, parts and any other costs associated with the repair or maintenance item. Mr. Schneider, with his claims of running a small business, surely would understand it is going to cost more than $ 2,000 a month to provide maintenance and repair services for a 1,600 plus meter system.
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The water company Board of Directors carefully evaluated all possible options in replacing the services formerly provided by Avion and found there were no companies available in the local service area that had the experience, the certifications, and the operational ability to provide the 24 / 7 / 365 service levels that are needed to insure the integrity of the system and the ability to provide immediate repairs to the system and keep the water flowing at all times.
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It should also be noted that Mr. Schneider has never contacted Frank Day, General Manager of the water company at any time in the last 24 months with any questions about any aspect of the water company operations or seeking any kind of clarifications of any kind.
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Kent Inman of the Team Schneider / Inman notes that “it is important to be transparent with the members and keep them informed”.
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It should be noted that at no time in the last 24 months by any form has Mr. Inman contacted Frank Day, General Manager of the water company, to ask questions, or discuss items.
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Allegations of non-transparency are hard to support when you have not reached out to those who you accuse of not being transparent in at least a minimal effort to establish a two-way conversation.
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Team Schneider / Inman clearly feels that not being accurate in their campaign statements was part of the process in trying to further impinge the capabilities and directions of the current Board of Directors.
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The current Board of Directors is dedicated to providing the delivery of the water service our members have come to expect. The ability to effect immediate repairs to keep the water flowing at the lowest possible cost was very important to this Board and guides all our decisions.
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As far as the transparency allegations are concerned, Mr. Frank Day the General Manager has multiple times in public meetings offered to meet with any member about any questions they may have about the water company operations and that offer still stands.
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I would encourage any member to contact him with any questions they may have in a respectful manner.
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Mr. Schneider has posted the following on Nextdoor, Quoting him:

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I am running for the Water company board. If elected I plan to make some changes. A vote for me and Kent Inman will be a positive influence from the board”

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Team Schneider does not seem to understand that he would be one of five people on the Board and he will not make any changes unless he gets the appropriate majority to agree with him.
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I would expect a candidate for such a Board position would understand that and given Mr. Schneiders past tenure on the CRR HOA Board of Directors he should clearly understand that no one member is able to affect any level of change without the required affirmative majority vote.
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That process is exactly meant to keep any one person from having that much power, a concept that seems to completely escape Mr. Schneider.
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Team Schneider – Inman / Mr. Schneider would have to learn to work with other Board members and reach respectful consensus if his motions have any merit. This is a level of inexperience in Board operations our members do not deserve.
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Mr. Schneider also posts on Nextdoor / Quoting :

Kate, the PUC is forcing the CCRWC to do an audit for 2022 and 2023.

The above statement is completely untrue.

The audit requirement was part of the settlement during the negotiation process. The water company never rejected the request for a financial audit. The Water Company is not being “forced” to do an audit.
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That is Mr. Schneiders usual out of context statements. The audit is for 2023 ONLY and does not include 2022. I would expect a candidate for the Water Company Board to be accurate in his public statements, and this demonstrates that Team Inman / Mr. Schneider is putting out false information in an attempt to influence member voters.
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I will note that the Water Company Board is a 5-person Board and unless Team Schneider / Inman can somehow achieve a majority, they will probably find Board members rather unwilling to work with their adversarial attitudes and inaccurate perceptions of how things run.
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The current Board of Directors has a vast depth of experience in public works and water system management.
On the Board is a former civil engineer, who ran his own business as well, and performed millions of dollars in infrastructure projects.
We have a retired public works Director, a retired excavation construction contractor and corporate turnaround consultant,  a current corporate finance person and a transportation business owner.
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This responsibility is not taken lightly, and despite Mr. Schneider and Mr. Inmans attempts to somehow disparage the performance of the current Board, they are a qualified and responsible group who pay the same water bills as you do.
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I encourage members to reelect Nate Russel and Beth Gatchell to the Crooked River Ranch Water Company Board of Directors.

DALE WILEY

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