Kittitas County Public Utility District 1 commissioners on Tuesday got good news that the PUD’s closing of work orders for daily PUD projects has been caught up for all of 2011.

The three commissioners also learned that a state Department of Labor and Industries surprise safety inspection spanning two days resulted in no cited violations for line crews.

Final action was taken by commissioners to formally appoint PUD Engineering Manager Matt Boast and Operations Manager Brian Vosburgh to take on the extra duties of co-interim PUD general managers until a new manager is hired.

The resolution to make the appointment, and grant each employee an extra $2,250 a month for the added duties, was first introduced earlier this year to formalize their appointment after Commission Chairman John Hanson appointed them in emergency action on Dec. 27.

Commissioners, in a 2-1 vote on Dec. 27, dismissed General Manager Chuck Ward Jr. from his position as of Dec. 31.

Progress

Boast, during the Tuesday board meeting, explained that a CPA accounting consultant last fall reported that many work orders relating to day-to-day lineman work had not been closed out. This means accounting actions were not taken by staff to formally end the projects according to accounting records.

Boast said each time any PUD materials are used to do a project or accomplish work, a work order is started to specifically list all PUD crew and staff actions on the project and what materials were used, their cost and quantity.

Work orders were not closed in a timely manner, and by the end of January there were 351 work orders not closed.

Work by staff, CPA consultant Genine Pratt and others brought that number to only 45 open work orders by the end of this month, with the vast majority of those being projects started this year or still under way.

As of Feb. 22, it was estimated that the open work orders amounted to nearly $1.4 million in projects that were under taken last year.

Boast said the longest a work order should stay open is 60 days after completion to allow all bills and costs related to the work to arrive or be accounted for.

He said PUD staff last year began closing the orders on a more timely basis. He said a new system takes a team approach in handling the orders so the responsibility doesn’t fall on one person, and checks and balances exist to assure timely action.

Boast said the PUD’s computer system provider has given training sessions to office staff on more effective use of the system for accounting and work orders.

Commissioners acknowledged the good progress made by staff in catching up with work orders, and Boast said a final 2011 financial report will go to commissioners at their next regular board meeting in March.

Flying colors

Vosburgh said a surprise safety inspection by state L and I personnel in early February focused on PUD line crews working with high voltages.

The result, he said, was that PUD line operations received no formal findings of errors or violations and no written citations.

The inspections included unannounced visits to PUD crews working in the field, he said, and the only item noted was a missing operator’s manual from a truck. It was later found in the office and returned to the truck.

The inspector had minor comments about the PUD’s safety logs, but they were quickly corrected, Vosburgh said.

A rivet was found loose on a tool, and the tool was taken out of service for repairs.

Vosburgh, in a written report to the board, said the L & I inspection shows that staff and line crews are well aware of safety rules.

“A job well done to the crews/management for being vigilant about safety and making sure that all trucks (and crew members) are in order and compliant with the state law and safety conscious,” Vosburgh said.

He added that a former PUD employee in past board meetings alleged that crews were violating safety rules, but the recent inspection results shows line crews are following rules.

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