From: Dan Toepper, Candidate for PUD Commissioner
I have been attending PUD meetings, hearings, and workshops for nearly five (5) years. I also served for two (2) plus years, on the PUD Citizens Advisory Board (CAB). In my professional career over the past 28 years, I have worked on environmental clean-up, habitat restoration, and infrastructure installation, that includes water, power, sewer, stormwater drainage systems and retention ponds, landfill liner and leachate systems repair and telecom.
My opponent in the Jefferson PUD No. 1 Commissioner race, sent out a county-wide email through a political party electronic contact list and on his website. I feel compelled to offer-up rebuttal to a large portion of everything he had to say.
The PUD currently has a Strategic Plan and its needs updating. Tom Brotherton was nowhere to be seen at PUD hearings, meetings or workshops until a little over a year ago. If he had attended any of these hearings, meetings or workshops, he would know there is an existing Strategic Plan. Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) came to JPUD No. 1 and held training on how to organize your strategic plan. I know this because I participated in the workshop.
He talks about the PUD becoming involved with high-speed rural broadband and internet. I would love for the PUD to be able to supply its customers with high-speed rural internet broadband. The reality is, the PUD does not have rural broadband customers, because by law the PUD cannot offer retail internet. If we tried to do that at present, we would end up in litigation and most likely be successfully sued by internet service providers (ISPs). If you would like more information about the PUD possibly becoming involved in telecom, I would advise you to listen to the NoaNet presentation audio recording for August 30, 2018, that is found on the JPUD website under Special Meetings. Don’t be deterred—please listen to it in its entirety.
Regarding PUD fiscal health and financial future, I have been advocating for a new Chief Financial Officer long before my opponent started attending PUD meetings.
The candidate who touts himself as the “Candidate of Science” states “one can’t be off the grid for roads or information”. Does he not grasp the concept of wireless and satellite communications? Which by the way, are currently available to nearly the entire county through private sector internet service providers. I am curious to hear the details of what exactly it is he is alluding to with that statement.
He touts his managerial skills and experience. PUD Commissioners, by Revised Code of Washington 54 (RCW) and the PUD Governance Policy, only manage one employee, the manager. So, I would like him to explain who it is that he expects to manage. The combined board is the entity that is tasked with the oversight of the manager, not any one commissioner. The manager, under the aforementioned references to documentation, is the person tasked with day-to-day operations of the PUD and oversight of all of its employees.
He states that you should vote for him because he is going to lower your rates, improve the economy and protect the environment. I would like to have him explain, in detail, how he is going to lower our rates with a 10-year BPA contract that increases its rates 3 to 5 percent a year and requires a minimum usage, that if we fall below that level, our rates are increased to cover the difference in guaranteed power that we contracted to buy. On the water and sewer systems that the PUD maintains and operates, rates were just increased to compensate for a long period of time where rates were not increased, so now the PUD needs to upgrade and maintain the systems. Like everything else, inflation is also part of these financial equations. Again, ask him to explain in detail how he is going to lower the rates and how long it will take. The best way to improve the economy is to focus and prioritize on providing water, power and sewer services to the communities that need it to expand affordable housing and for job creation. No one in this county wants to see the environment or our quality of life to be diminished. Myself included. I was born and raised in this county, and like many of the other people who call this place home, my family strives to be good stewards of the land.
He concludes his plea for your vote, your help and your support by stating “I don’t intend to be the caretaker of a public utility”. Would someone ask him politely and with respect to quantify and qualify that statement? With a $102 million debt over the next 24 years and an electric branch of the utility that is a $36 million operation of a $39 million PUD budget, I don’t think anyone expects him to be a caretaker. Almost everything he proposes, if you can find any detail on what he proposes, will most certainly lead to higher rates, fees, surcharges, and more debt.
Good intentions are just that. Until you attach detail and a plan that lays out how you are going to achieve your intention, its just vague talk and empty promises. In my opinion, my opponent has not explained how to achieve what he proposes, however well-intentioned they may be.
Thank you for your attention. Please vote for Dan Toepper PUD Commissioner and put the PUD in the hands of the people of Jefferson County.
Candidate for PUD Commissioner