New PUD commissioners sworn in Tuesday

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Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald New Grant County PUD commissioner Judy Wilson (right) signs her oath of office after being sworn in by Grant County Superior Court Judge David Estudillo (left). New PUD commissioner Nelson Cox is in the center.

MOSES LAKE — The Grant County PUD commission started the first meeting of 2019 by swearing in two new commissioners.

Nelson Cox and Judy Wilson were sworn in after winning contentious – and very expensive, for the PUD – races. Grant County Superior Court Judge David Estudillo administered the oath.

The business meeting included a review of a proposed contract for PUD General Manager Kevin Nordt.

The contract was proposed at the Nov. 27 commission meeting and scheduled for approval at the Dec. 11 meeting, but commissioners voted to table it. At Tuesday’s meeting commissioner Larry Schaapman said the contract was tabled to give the new commissioners time to review it.

Cox expressed concern about a five-year contract, since new commissioners may be elected in two years and they should, he said, have some input. Schaapman said the decision to cut that to three years was made before the contract was tabled.

Wilson said she hadn’t had a chance to read the new contract yet, and wanted to review it. The vote will come at the Jan. 22 meeting.

In other business, commissioners reviewed a contract with Central Washington Management Group, slated for approval at the Jan. 22 meeting. The $3,970,000 contract will pay for the management of the Crescent Bar Recreation Area and is for three years. The company has been managing the recreation area since 2016. The new contract includes a $450,000 increase each year. The contract also includes more responsibilities, more maintenance work and additional bond and insurance costs.

Commissioner Tom Flint said he commended the PUD staff who worked on the contract – and the staff who worked on the Crescent Bar project in the decade since the PUD took over management of the island. Crescent Bar was the subject of considerable contention, a lawsuit, and an extensive upgrade after the lawsuit was settled. In a presentation to commissioners Tuesday morning, PUD staff estimated the utility has spent $35,996,994 on the project as of Nov. 2018. (That doesn’t take into account reimbursement from island leaseholders for 90 percent of the new water and wastewater treatment facilities, according to information in a PUD presentation. It also doesn’t include the expenses of financing or long-term capital investments.)

The management company will run the day-to-day operations at Crescent Bar.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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