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Water District Election Q&A: Joseph Bowman

The incumbent in the race for a seat on the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District board wants to flatten out rate increases while focusing on the needs of the community.

Joseph Bowman is seeking re-election to the the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District as director for Division 4, an area which covers the region west of Reyes Adobe and south of Thousand Oaks Blvd, the City of Westlake Village and the unincorporated county area south and east of Westlake Village.

(Though Calibasas residents won't be voting in this election because the city is not part of Division 4, we are including the article on Calibasas Patch because the board as a whole affects all of the water district's customers.)

His only opponent in the race is newcomer Len Polan, an architect from Westlake Village.

Bowman, also a resident of Westlake, began his career with LVMWD in 2003 as treasurer. A real estate attorney, he's been married for 16 years to Kris Carraway-Bowman, former mayor and two term councilwoman of Westlake Village, and has four adult children, three adult step children and eight grandchildren.

He includes among his many community contributions: one of five founding directors, along with two nurses, of The Wellness Community, Valley/Ventura Chapter, a non-profit organization based in Westlake Village which offers gratis services to cancer patients and their families

If re-elected, Bowman says he will "focus on integrating the new general manager who will start with the district on January 1."

Patch: What are some of your major accomplishments as director?

Bowman:  Beginning with a memo to my fellow board members in July, 2008, I urged the board to co-ordinate our five-year plans; each is reviewed annually or bi-annually. The Master Plan, done with the help of outside consultants, looks at all events and trends, like population growth, new commercial users, expected new regulations of district activities, etc. that may affect the district in the next five years and adopts programs to respond. The Specific Plan looks at where we want to be in five years and establishes goals and objectives and annual activities to get there. The Capital Improvement Plan looks at what infrastructure, new or replacement, and major repairs or upgrades are needed over the next five years. And the Financial Plan, addresses reserves, income and expenses projected for the next five years and preliminarily estimates rates accordingly so that anticipated fiscal needs for on-going operations and the other plans may be covered. Rates are then set annually as part of the budgeting process. Before 2008, these plans could have been done in different years or not reviewed concurrently. Co-ordination in the same year paints a much clearer picture.

Patch: Why are you running for re-election?

Bowman: Continuity, experience, strong footing in the community, knowledge of the industries, and experience with LVMWD is particularly important with a new GM coming on board January 1, 2013.

Patch: Why are LVMWD rates being raised again?

Bowman: As a result of MWD increases to date, we have lost over $6.7 million delivering potable water over the last several years and cannot continue indefinitely to draw on reserves to cover losses. MWD will continue to raise the wholesale rate we pay, and we have been selling water to our lowest tier customers at less than the wholesale rate. A more complete explanation can be found in the 218 notice to increase rates available at the district or on its web site. I will not vote for the raises proposed by staff ... They are the accurate calculations if we are to meet all district goals, particularly reserve levels, in three years. I believe we can continue to use reserves at a lower amount to flatten out rate increases over a five year period without jeopardizing the fiscal health of the district. We have the lowest rates in the region and will continue if the staff recommendations are adopted.

Patch: Why do we need the Westlake Water tank; which communities will it serve?

Bowman: We should bring west end storage up to industry standards–which we now have in the east end–and provide a more reliable supply in the event of a system delivery breakdown or extraordinary demand such as a major fire on a day of near peak customer demand. It's all about reliability. And, yes, it benefits the entire district, particularly all west of the Cornell Road pump station, but the east end as well, because we otherwise might have to draw water from its tanks to serve the west end.

Patch: If re-elected, what is your next 5 year plan?

Bowman:  If I am elected board president as now scheduled, to focus on integrating the new GM to the district, board policies and the community.

Patch: What do you feel is the most important role of the water district board?

Bowman: fiscal oversight ... but the board is also charged with assuring that the GM properly staffs the district and he/she performs to expectations. The board may, by law, interface only with the GM who is responsible for carrying out board policies and day to day operations. The board sets policy, including expenditures via budget approval.The GM assures that the policies are followed.

Stay tuned for a Q&A with Division 4 opponent Len Polan.

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