Oceano CSD update
October 3, 2012
OPINION By JULIE TACKER
It’s been awhile since we last talked about the Oceano Community Services District. In August, I explained OCSD General Manager Tom Geaslen had failed to bring the permanent sale of water initiative to an agenda in a timely fashion. This misstep prevented the district from stating their position on the matter in the voter information packet that goes to every registered voter in the district.
At the OCSD’s Sept. 26 meeting the board finally discussed the initiative, but were unable to spend district funds publicizing their position due to conflicts in the California Election Code.
Their position emulates that of County Council, Warren Jensen’s, impartial analysis which is published in the voter information guide. It states, “the measure may be subject to legal challenge on one or more grounds,” suggesting it “steps beyond the power of the electorate to enact because the legislature has delegated to community services district government boards the power to sell water. Additionally, because the matter of who or which entity the OCSD may contract to sell water is an administrative matter not within the initiative power of the voters.”
To get the message out without costing the district a penny, directors could do what I am doing, write letters to the editor urging a “no” vote on the illegal initiative that will likely be litigated in the future.
Another costly topic, administrative fees collected from the South County Sanitation District (SSLOCSD) are on this week’s SSLOCSD agenda. Historically SSLOCSD has paid $4,930 each year to OCSD for their staff’s time mailing and processing the sanitation district’s sewer fees that pass through the agency each year. In a budget discussion this spring, Geaslen suggested “we hold the check” in order to negotiate an increase and withheld some 10 percent (over $7,000) of pass through payments in April and May.
SSLOCSD District Engineer, John Wallace wrote a letter to Geaslen in early July demanding payment. Geaslen responds saying checks would be cut, they were, but billing would begin at $45,000 a year starting in July.
On Aug. 22, SSLOCSD was issued an invoice from OCSD for $7,382.32 for “Billing Cycle 1” which appears to be for July and August. Wallace has rejected the invoice citing insufficient documentation/ justification for such a charge. A 900 percent increase over what has been approved and budgeted by his Board. No written agreement and the billing includes costs associated with staff reading water meters; which is not how sewer charges are calculated.
Geaslen’s proposal would increase the cost to OCSD rate payers by 9 percent or $16.00 per year ($2.60 each bimonthly). This would be on top of the 2011 water/sewer rate increases that are ratcheting up over five years.
Sanitation District member agencies Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach would likely follow suit, increasing their charges to the SSLOCSD and corresponding actions by both city councils could take months, perhaps years, if ever approved by the SSLOCSD customers in a Proposition 218 protest process.
Once again, Geaslen is wasting time chasing unlikely “revenue sources.”