October 2020 Regular Board Meeting




Regular Board Meeting – October 14, 2020


Board approved at its December 9, 2020, regular Board meeting.

The virtual regular session of the Springfield Utility Board (SUB) was called to order by Chair DeWenter at 6:02 p.m., and led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.


Board: John DeWenter, Chair; Mike Eyster, Vice-Chair; Pat RiggsHenson; David Willis; Robert Scherer.

Staff: Jeff Nelson; Bob Fondren; Sanjeev King; Greg Miller; Janis Brew; Meredith Clark; Cindy Flaherty; Matt Dahlstrom and Joe Leahy, Attorneys for the Board.

Others: Jennifer Joly, OMEU.

Consent Agenda


  • August 12, 2020, Mid-Year Budget Committee Update Meeting

Accounts Paid – September 2020

Award/Approval of Bids/Proposals:

  • ESC RFP No. 13.20 - 55 ft. Over Center Aerial Bucket Truck awarded to Versalift Northwest for a total of $282,571 (Exhibit A).

* Pat Riggs-Henson motioned, and Mike Eyster seconded, to approve the Consent Agenda, as presented. This motion carried unanimously.

Business from the Board

2021 Budget Process

Jeff Nelson noted two public hearings on a proposal to increase water rates and the proposed 2021 Utility Budget are planned for each of the November and December regular Board meetings.

2021 Budget Committee Meetings Schedule

The Board approved the following schedule for SUB’s Budget Committee Meetings (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.) for the Proposed 2021 Budget:

  • 1st Meeting Monday, November 9 - Review/deliberate on proposed Budget
  • 2nd Meeting Monday, November 16 - If Needed for further deliberations

If the Budget Committee completes its deliberations for the proposed 2021 Budget at the 1st meeting, then the 2nd meeting will not be needed and will be cancelled.

  • 3rd Meeting Tuesday, December 1 - If Needed, to consider public comment and/or final recommendation to the Board

The 3rd Budget Committee meeting may potentially be held, in the event that the Budget Committee desires to meet again to discuss any public comment, after the 1st public hearing planned for November 18. If there is no public comment to consider and no further recommendation to the Board, the committee may cancel the 3rd meeting.

Potential Board Action Following Executive Session

Following discussion in the 5:00 p.m. executive session held earlier tonight, the Board made the following motion.

* Mike Eyster motioned, and Pat Riggs-Henson seconded, to authorized General Manager Nelson to move forward with Willamalane’s request for an extension on the Intergovernmental Agreement for Recreational Equestrian Use on the Georgia Pacific property, and to extend the expiration date through December 31, 2020, as discussed in executive session. This motion carried unanimously.

Business from the Audience


Business from the General Manager

Special Districts Best Practices Update

Referring to her memo dated September 30, 2020 (Exhibit B), Janis Brew explained that Special Districts Insurance Services (SDIS) allows a discount of up to 10 percent annually on general liability, auto liability, and property insurance contributions, and reviewed the five categories in which SUB may earn a 2 percent discount. This year’s focus topics were on public records.

Ms. Brew reported that SUB has completed four of the requirements and has already earned an 8 percent discount, and will meet the remaining requirement to earn the additional 2 percent discount, well in advance of the November 6, 2020 deadline.

The Board thanked Ms. Brew for her update.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

Mr. Nelson shared that the Board received a copy of the memo, provided by Community Relations Manager Meredith Clark, on SUB’s 2020 Customer Satisfaction Research (Exhibit C). Mr. Nelson also wanted to recognize the excellent work Ms. Clark did in the coordination with staff, and with Great Blue – a new research agency SUB used to perform the 2020 Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Ms. Clark briefly discussed results from the survey questions, as well as some insights and recommendations provided by the research vendor. She added that this was the first time to use a vendor that had some utility experience, so we were able to gain new insights by using Great Blue.

She said there was a decline in the number of people who understood SUB’s organizational structure. One reason may be that we had decoupled our Public Power week, which is our main opportunity to talk about the benefits of public power, with our Customer Appreciation Week, and so we recoupled the two events to be able to share re-messaging of the consumer owned utility message into the customer appreciation week. Ms. Clark also said that in terms of training customer service staff so they are aware that getting problem resolution during the first contact is a huge driver of customer satisfaction.

Following further discussion, the Board thanked Ms. Clark for her efforts.

Memo Updates Provided to the Board:

Mr. Nelson explained that he will provide brief updates on the following memos, as they are meant as updates to the Board, on items the Board wanted to review, as some of the Board Goals.

SUB Key/Large Customers – re. Efficiency & Disaster Preparedness

Referring to his memo on Key/Large Customers – re. Efficiency & Disaster Preparedness (Exhibit D) Mr. Nelson said this is an update on SUB’s interactions with Key/Large accounts regarding energy efficiency and disaster preparedness.

Update on SUB/EWEB Joint Resolution re. Willamette River Water Rights

Mr. Nelson shared that he provided memos (Exhibit E) as updates on conversations SUB is having with EWEB on its Joint Resolution as related to Willamette River Water Rights. No further questions from the Board at this time.

Request to Approve Project SHARE Administrative Agreement with Catholic Community Services

Mr. Nelson noted that SUB has an agreement with Catholic Community Services to administer Project Share funds. Those funds are provided through funding through the Board and also through customers who would like to generously donate to Project Share. He recommends the Board approve the General Manager to move forward to execute the one year agreement. Following discussion, the Board made the following motion.

* Pat Riggs-Henson motioned, and Mike Eyster seconded, to authorize the General Manager to proceed to execute the one year Project Share Administrative Agreement with Catholic Community Services, as presented (Exhibit F). This motion carried unanimously.

John DeWenter then recommended that next October when the Project Share agreement comes up for review again, that the language in the contract be reviewed for clear and concise language, particularly to Item 8 on Page 5, as related to indemnification.

Update on 2021 Oregon Legislative Session & OMEU’s Legislative Positions

Mr. Nelson discussed his memo to the Board on 2021 Legislative Session (Exhibit G) and noted that this memo is a summary of some of the key items that he expects out of the next legislative session. Wildfire risk mitigation and requirements on utilities on a risk mitigation plan, and efforts that SUB is responding to through OMEU and in collaboration with other utility groups regarding the status of our past due accounts year to year, and disconnects status. By providing the information we would provide would give them the ability to have an informed decision regarding any actions related to the moratorium on disconnects or different services.

Jennifer Joly shared comment that it seems like there has been some talk about the liability question in some work groups that the speaker has been hosting, although there hasn’t been any agreement so far. The last she heard was that congress may be taking up the liability issue, but may be mostly aimed at schools for the reopening.

Ms. Joly noted the wildfire utility planning effort that was put forward at the last legislative session. The Consumer Owned Utilities (COUs) had agreed to participate with a plan that would be approved by the local governing Boards of the utilities and then filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) so they would have a state wide repository of plans. Although things have changed significantly since the legislature was looking at the last session. She’s heard that the Governor is taking the lead on drafting a wildfire bill.

The Board thanked Ms. Joly for attending the meeting and for all the work she is doing through OMEU.

Report on OSHA’s COVID-19 Rules

Mr. Nelson review his memo Oregon OSHA Temporary COVID Workplace Rule Status (Exhibit H) with the Board. In summary, SUB has been participating in the temporary rule making process that once OSHA adopts the rule it will last six months after the effective date. The final draft came out today. SUB has initiated one of the requirements under the draft rule already, which is to do an exposure risk assessment, and that must include engagement and participation with staff. SUB has already held two listening sessions to gather feedback and input from staff.

Telecommunications Update

In his memo (Exhibit I) Mr. Nelson highlighted that the US Ignite grant for a Downtown carrier hotel is progressing and the City has retained Systems West Engineering to design a carrier hotel structure meeting design specifications. Alyrica has applied for a Net Neighborhood in the River Glen area in North Springfield, and XS Media applied for a Net Neighborhood in the Redwood area, North of Jasper Road between 32nd Street and Filbert Lane in South Central Springfield.

Service Territory Review

Jeff Nelson provided this memo (Exhibit I) as a brief review of areas within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) that SUB does not currently provide electric or/and water service and provide context for areas that the Board could pursue next steps.

TEAM Springfield Update

Mr. Nelson has sent the Board the agenda for the October 21 Team Springfield Joint Elected Officials meeting.

Business from the Board

Review Consolidated Set of Board Policies

Chair DeWenter referred to the proposed revision of Board policies as related to each Board member; Chapter 1 – Board (Exhibit J).

Following recommended revisions, Board consensus was to make final revisions to bring back to the Board for final consideration for adoption.

Discussion of Board Goals for 2021

Chair DeWenter provided the Board with a copy of the Draft 2021 Board Goals (Exhibit K) for review prior to tonight’s meeting.

The Board shared recommended revisions and consensus was to bring an updated draft of 2021 Board Goals for review at the November Board meeting.

Board Member Updates

Chair DeWenter asked for Board member updates:

David Willis plans to attend next week’s US Ignite virtual conference.

Chair DeWenter, Vice-Chair Eyster, and General Manger Nelson met with Rainbow Water District (RWD) General Manager and Board President and Vice President, and those discussions are progressing on a rough draft of a replacement agreement relating to the arrangement with RWD. Next meeting is expected to be in December.

Jeff Nelson shared that Jamie Porter and RWD were helping Blue River and other folks upriver in the response to the Holiday Farm Fire. He noted that Mr. Porter related to him that one of the reasons why RWD felt they could extend some of their resources to help that effort, was because they knew SUB had things under control in Springfield.

Chair DeWenter noted his regularly scheduled meeting with EWEB Commissioner Steve Mital. One suggestion is that EWEB and SUB work together on protecting both our water sources on the Willamette and McKenzie.

Future Board Agendas

None at this time.


The meeting was adjourned by consensus at 7:35 p.m.

John DeWenter, Board Chair

Jeff Nelson, Board Secretary