EID candidates, Division 2: Richard Englefield keeps things positive
Running in El Dorado Irrigation District Division 2 is Richard Englefield, 71, of El Dorado. Englefield’s campaign website is englefield4eiddirector.com.
Englefield was employed for 32 years as an administrative analyst specialist in the computing support Department at California State University, Sacramento. He has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources from the same university. He served on the board of the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council from 2002 to 2012, during which he was instrumental in forming two councils — one in Grizzly Flat and the other in Logtown. He was also a board member of the Grizzly Flat Community Services District, a water district, from 2005 to June of 2013.
Englefield said at the time he was asked to serve on the board at Grizzly Flat, the water district was only a couple of years away from closing its doors. “The board disintegrated before my eyes and at the same time there was a big turnover in staff.” But after getting organized, he said they redid the accounting system, raised rates and cut expenses, which included eliminating one position. “Our five-year plan only took three years to accomplish by working smarter.”
Englefield said it was during his time on the board that he also gained experience in infrastructure improvements and water rights when the Grizzly Flat board undertook a $1.7 million infrastructure project that not only helped preserve its water but also its water rights. He then assumed the job of documenting those water rights all the way back to the 1880s, adding it took him seven years to accumulate the 4,700 documents now on file in the office. He said that experience helped him understand EID’s water rights as well.
Asked why he is running, Englefield said he wants to help, but also acknowledged that serving on EID’s board would be a fantastic challenge for him given EID’s size and complexity.
As far as what distinguishes him from his opponent, Englefield said it is his ability to work with people in a positive fashion. “I’m not saddled with three years of negativity. I’m coming in at a neutral point. That will get me further with employees, the general manager and the rest of the board … That’s one of the biggest differences between me and Greg Prada. I looked on his Website and there was nothing positive on it. I’m the positive candidate.
“At the last board meeting I attended, the presentation was destroyed over a shouting match between Prada and the general manager … Finally Prada got up to leave, bursting out the door. He didn’t stick around for the answer. You can’t conduct yourself like that. I don’t do that. If I can’t get my point across and a measure passes anyway, I will support it as a member of the board of directors.”
Englefield said EID faces several challenges with the two biggest being its finances and capital improvement plan. The district’s financials “are what they are,” he said, adding that the district is below average in some ways but not broke. The district does have $370 million in debt, but everyone carries some debt. It just depends on the degree. “We did get an A-plus rating from the bond agencies by paying off debt early. If we continue to do that it will be a plus because it means we can get cheaper money when we do borrow.”
But he said he also believes in cutting expenses and reining in the debt level. “We need to pay it down and not get involved in anything that would increase it. The same with rates. We need to just say no the next time rate increases are discussed.”
Another challenge is implementing all the capital improvement projects the district has identified. He said the district currently has 130 projects divided into seven areas, with each project assigned a priority number. One area is regulatory projects EID is required to undertake and there are 30 of them. “But they are all rated a priority one. So where’s the starting point?” he asked. “What I’d like to see is all the projects prioritized from one to 130. I’d let the people in their departments set the priorities and do a bottom-up management thing. Then I’d give management a chance to have some input and then take it to the board.”
Englefield does agree that the district has an excess of waste water and water treatment ability. He said that was related to previous changes to the county general plan that resulted in EID building the Deer Creek Treatment Plant. On the positive side, the plant can serve new developments at no additional cost. “I’ve been in computing for 32 years. You don’t build to average or the minimum, you over-build to take in future growth. That’s the industry standard. I also believe the added capacity was paid for by developers,” he said.
Englefield said as a board member he will continue to protect EID’s water rights. “I will support the agency’s efforts to pull in the initial 40,000 acre feet of original water rights that’s ongoing and I would go after additional water rights. We need to use our water rights correctly, hold on to everything we’ve got and go after more, because water is the next gold rush in California,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to belong to groups like Mountain Counties and why I attended El Dorado County Water Agency meetings for the last seven years.
“I also want to support agriculture in the county. I have been here for 20 years and have seen the timber industry go. Right now in terms of employers we have county government, a lot of medical and the casino. But we can’t kill agriculture. That’s what is driving the county — agriculture. I will be out there to support that, to protect their water rights, and ensure they have good quality and substantial water supplies. I’m for reasonable growth in housing, but I’d rather see vineyards than rooftops.”
“Let’s not shut things down,” he said, “just keep working forward in a positive way.”