FELTON — Lois Henry, vice president of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District Council, resigned from her position on Tuesday, leaving the governing body with four acting members.
Board chair Gail Mahood said the 84-year-old, who has volunteered on the board for more than three years, informed the group of her retirement last weekend.
“She kind of felt it was time for her to step aside, to leave someone younger with more energy and time to focus on neighborhood business. She just thought it was time to do it,” Mahood said.
Henry joined the board more than three years ago, previously leading efforts to merge the small community water system of Lompico with the district, then as a member of the district board of directors of Lompico County water. For residents of Lompico, the merger meant more reliable drinking water service.
“She almost single-handedly led the consolidation with Lompico,” district manager Rick Rogers said. “Pretty amazing what she did for Lompico.”
Rogers also cited Henry’s craftsmanship.
“His wisdom and tax expertise… his extensive knowledge of water system consolidations… will be missed,” Rogers said.
Henry leaves as the district explores further consolidation with three small private water providers off Highway 236 in Boulder Creek – Bracken Brae, Forest Springs and Big Basin Water Co. – which suffered extensive damage during of the August 2020 CZU Lightning Complex fire.
The district also continues to face challenges due to the CZU complex, which destroyed approximately 8 km of the district’s drinking water pipes and seven of the nine surface water intakes. To fix the system, officials estimate it will cost $20 million. During a budget and finance committee meeting on Tuesday, Kendra Reed, finance director for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District, announced that the provider had exceeded its fiscal year 2021 budget — by $1 million in spending – largely to fund early fire recovery projects.
Following Henry’s retirement, the District’s five-member Board of Directors is reduced to four representatives, increasing the chances that proposals will be blocked with tie votes.
The board could either issue a call for nominations and collectively appoint a new vice-chairman of the board, or launch a special election. California law requires that if the board wishes to fill the vacancy by appointment, it must do so within 60 days of Henry’s official retirement date.
“In the past, the board hasn’t called an election because it’s a big expense,” Rogers said.
He could also choose to wait.
In this case, the council would consist of four members until November, when the next general elections for the San Lorenzo Valley Water District are scheduled to take place. If the group chose a specially appointed person, that board member’s term would expire in November.
Rogers said the board will discuss next steps either at a special meeting that could take place next week or at the regular board meeting scheduled for March 17.