Sanitation district board pursues an audit
January 22, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
After several years of voting against an audit, the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Board voted 3-0 on Wednesday to pursue a financial review of the past 12 years.
Approximately 30 people attended Wednesday’s meeting. Attendees asked the council to approve the audit and to terminate its contact with embattled attorney Mike Seitz. The board agreed to allot $40,000 for an audit of the district’s finances with a goal of ensuring fiscal accountability in the future.
The board took no reportable action against Seitz who looked down with pursed lips while attendees claimed he failed to protect the ratepayers and the environment while supporting the plant’s former administrator, John Wallace.Sanitation district staff spoke of the importance of an audit in order to put into place policies to prevent future financial digressions. Staff said that under Wallace’s administration, chemical costs ran about $600,000 a year and under the current management chemical costs have fallen to $240,000 a year.
Under Wallace’s administration, former staffers at the plant said the company Wallace purchased chlorine from also provided top management perks such as inclusion in a yearly boar hunting trip.
In 2013, amid allegations of mismanagement, Wallace stepped down. Within months, the plant was operating cleaner at less than 50 percent the cost, according to financial reports obtained from the district.The board had previously voted against an audit with Oceano Community Services District President Matt Guerrero joining former Arroyo Grande mayor Tony Ferrara arguing against spending money to investigate past acts.
However, following the November election, the makeup of the board changed with Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill and Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals joining Guerrero who under public pressure changed his anti-audit position.