Benefits for new water agency staffers reviewed

A water tank owned by the Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) sits above Central Park in Saugus on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017. The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is expected to employ between 215 and 218 people. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
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More than 215 employees of Santa Clarita Valley’s new water agency are not likely to notice any significant change when their positions at SCV’s water wholesaler and SCV’s oldest water retailer are dissolved in the new year.

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is expected to employ between 215 and 218 people.

Right now, the total number of people employed under the umbrella of the Castaic Lake Water Agency numbers 193, which includes staffers at the CLWA (86), the Santa Clarita Waer Division (59) and the Valencia Water Company (48).

The Newhall County Water District brings 30 staffers into the new agency’s fold, bringing the total number of employees to 223.  A handful of positions are being reviewed.

“We are still reviewing the proposed initial staffing plan but it looks like that initial new total would be 215 to 218,” CLWA General Manager Matt Stone told The Signal Friday.

With less than a month to go before the historic transformation takes place, water officials have a called a special meeting Monday to iron out employee policies and hammer out an all-encompassing employee manual.

If one set of workers enjoys a more “generous benefits” package than the other, then the more attractive benefits package will be extended to all.

“It is recognized that the existing organizations have similar but not identical employee benefits,” Stone wrote in a memo to board members of both agencies this past week.

“In developing a single benefit package going forward, in general the more generous benefit to the employee be utilized.

“The management and board may review or revisit benefits at a future time as needed, but envision no significant changes for the first three years.”

Stone points out in his memo to CLWA and NCWD board members that many of the policies are expected to remain in place during the first part of 2018 – until the new policies are adopted.

It is “impractical,” he adds, to have different personnel policies in one employee manual.

At first glance, CLWA employees enjoy a more “generous benefit” package than their NCWD counterparts.

For example, CLWA staffers are allowed 5 days bereavement leave compared to three days provided to NCWD workers.

Staffers at CLWA can accrue 480 hours of sick leave, compared 250 awarded to NCWD staffers.

At CLWA, they require a doctor’s note after four days off, but require the same note after three days off at NCWD.

And while the wholesaler pays 12 days sick leave per year, the water retailer pays for only 10.

The Castaic Lake Water Agency was first set up as the Upper Santa Clara Valley Water Agency on April

20, 1962 to contract with the state for delivery of water from Northern California.

In 1970, it changed its name to the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

The Newhall County Water District – the SCV’S oldest water retailer – was created in 1953, bringing with it roots reaching back to the early 1900s with our predecessor company, Newhall Water System.

In October, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 634, authorizing the merger of CLWA and NCWD, creating the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency.

For more than a year, officials with the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District – SCV’s water wholesaler and one of its four local water retailers, respectively – hammered out details of a merger, eliciting input from the public at four public meetings.

A year ago, both the CLWA and NCWD signed a settlement agreement calling for legislation to be drafted and submitted.

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