GRASS VALLEY, Calif. August 28, 2019 – During today’s NID board meting, General Manager Rem Scherzinger gave his customary General Manager’s Report to the Board of Directors. After discussing storage and long-term weather outlook, he mentioned almost in passing that NID was suspending any real estate acquisitions.
A temporary but indefinite suspension of acquisitions
A memo by Scherzinger, distributed at the meeting after his announce, reads as follows:
The District has historically received offers to sell from owners of real property that might be necessary for District projects under consideration or situated in a location of interest to the District, such as areas important to the District’s existing facilities and watersheds. These offers have been unsolicited. As you are aware, these prior projects were and remain in the planning stages, with uncertainty as to whether or to what extent the projects may be implemented. No announcement was made by the District of an intent to acquire the properties. Nonetheless, when the proffered sale presented a potential opportunity, it was the District’s practice to carefully consider – and on some occasions accept-the offer.
As set forth below, that former, customary practice of the District is being suspended. Effective immediately, the District is suspending all real property fee acquisitions for potential projects. Potential projects include:
1. Projects that have not received final approval (including encumbrance of funds) from the NID Board of Directors, including projects that are currently undergoing environmental review under CEQA, but have not been certified or adopted by the NID Board of Directors;
2. Projects or actions where CEQA review has not yet been initiated; and
3. Exempt CEQA projects.
This temporary suspension applies District-wide and to all NID departments and divisions.
Centennial dam implications
The proposed Centennial project is not abandoned following this suspension. However, the district appears to refocus their priority on existing infrastructure and the proposed dam is receding further on the priority list.
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NID Board members voted on July 24th to cut the 2019 adopted budget by 5% as a rate increase agreed upon by Board members was less than anticipated by the cost study. The loss of revenue prompted a review of the overall budget.
During their August 14th meeting, a closed session item dealt with real estate acquisitions in the Bear River canyon, within the footprint of the proposed Centennial dam project. At the end of the closed session, NID’s Counsel simply announced the General Manager and Counsel had been given direction regarding the APN numbers referenced in the agenda.
The 20-second announce did not give the details of the directions, it is however reasonable to assume the NID Board came to a decision regarding the suspension of acquisitions at that time.
This is a developing story, check back for updates and additional stories on the subject.