South Tahoe Public Utility District candidate profile: Nick Exline
Occupation: AICP, Senior Planner with Midkiff & Associates, Inc.
Why are you running for the board?
I believe with effort and commitment STPUD Board Directors can make positive changes that are good for our community, our environment and our economy.
After listening to every STPUD board meeting for the last three years I realized there is a lack of involvement from the board, an unwillingness to cooperate with other agencies and that problem solving solutions were not being brought forth. Board members either didn’t show up or simply didn’t contribute. This has resulted in financial mismanagement that will lead to drastic rate increases needed to fix our crumbling sewer infrastructure.
Our community spent months this summer engulfed in smoke. The knowledge that portions of our neighborhoods fire hydrants aren’t provided with adequately sized water lines is one of the main reasons I chose to run. It’s paramount that firefighters have the correct water pressure needed when fire strikes.
I’m running because I’m willing and able to be part of the solution. I believe board members should use their education and experience to bring forward ideas and solutions. This type of thinking has allowed me to work with the environmental, developmental and recreational communities to improve our economy, create good paying jobs and solve our environmental challenges.
What are your qualifications?
I have a master’s degree in land-use planning and I’m currently an AICP, Senior Planner with Midkiff & Associates. Projects I lead bring a significant return on investment, demonstrable environmental improvements and protect us from the greatest threat we face, fire.
I have worked to develop strategies in Tahoe’s legendary regulatory environment that have restored stream channels and parts of our pristine shoreline. I’ve helped reduce energy usage for various projects between 25 – 80 percent and minimized HGV miles traveled on our towns roads. This type of thinking resulted in being awarded a TRPA Best in the Basin Award for water quality improvements.
These projects also resulted in the creation of good paying locals jobs and a strong diversified economy. I worked as a volunteer with the city and school district as both governing bodies voted unanimously to improve our long-term finances through sustainability and the transition to renewable energy. These actions are already saving the school district $250,000 a year.
I worked to develop a fire infrastructure system between Cave Rock and Uppaway where none formerly existed.
Most importantly, I understand that cooperation, innovation and letting the best idea win is the only way to solve our problems.
What is the No. 1 issue facing the district? How would you address it?
Fiscal irresponsibility. The current STPUD board hasn’t budgeted for the repair of our infrastructure and has been deferring maintenance for years. The lifespan of our existing sewer pipes is approximately 50 years and they are now nearly 60 years old.
A 2018 STPUD budget graph documenting the Community Improvement Project Budget from 2018-2037 shows that between 2027 and 2028 the budget needs to jump from $1.6 million dollars to $18.9 million dollars. How is the existing board going to make up that $17.3 million-dollar shortfall? You’ve got it, drastically increase your rates and defer more greatly needed maintenance.
I have been knocking on doors in every neighborhood in our community to discuss the challenges and possibilities that exist at STPUD and there’s one thing that this community outreach has taught me. Our community simply can’t afford to pay drastically increased rates as a result of budgetary mismanagement.
In an effort to avoid STPUD becoming the Sheriff of Nottingham on the South Shore I propose that we both cut cost and generate additional revenue. Through more efficient land-use practices and investment in renewable energy (solar, wind and hydro) we can simultaneously lower our cost burden and begin to generate revenue through selling off any excess power generated.
Utility districts across the country have been moving in this direction for the same reason we must, because the cost to maintain/replace our existing infrastructure is growing faster than people can afford to pay and you can’t keep raising rates if people can’t afford to pay them.
While these ideas won’t solve all of the problems STPUD faces, ideas like renewable energy, in addition to others, will help to repair our failing infrastructure, expand fire safety to every area in STPUD’s jurisdiction and keep our rates low.
Why should voters select you to serve on the board?
I am asking for your vote on Nov. 6 for the same reasons we discussed on so many of your front porches over the last few months. Because I believe it’s paramount that our town elects committed, hard-working, solution orientated board members who are willing to contribute, bring forward ideas and who can work alongside STPUD staff to help solve the problems our town faces.
I knocked on doors in every neighborhood on the South Shore and the financial repercussions that will be felt by current budgetary mismanagement will impact those who can least afford to pay for it. Using my private sector and volunteer experience I’ll work hard to keep rates affordable, generate additional revenue and solve our environmental challenges. The school district is already saving $250,000 a year with this ethic.
Utilizing my education and experience in the private sector, I understand that the combination of providing energy security, energy savings and generating revenue is a natural fit to solve STPUD’s current tidal wave of unfunded liability and the massive rate increases we will see with inaction.
Using creativity and innovation I was able to use private sector funds to develop fire infrastructure in an area of Tahoe that formerly didn’t have it. We need to ensure the entirety of the South Shore is protected. It simply can’t wait!
I am asking for your vote so we can begin charting the course for the next 20 years to a better future for STPUD and for our community.