What happened to ethics?
October 6, 2015
OPINION by TOM SALMON
The Los Osos Community Service District does more disservice than service to our community. Now it appears its General Manager, Kathy Kively, has been serving up more to herself than she’s contractually allowed. This is self-service, over community service, is as much as I can take.
Ms. Kivley is orchestrating a series of blunders that include a shady audit, lining her own pockets and a fleecing of the districts water customers.
An example lies here, when a recent $150,000 interfund loan from the LOCSD water department’s Capital Outlay Reserve to the small subdivision of 147 parcels called “Bayridge Estates” which is entirely geographically disconnected from the districts water service area.
The district’s Capital Outlay Reserve balance is hovering at just about $550,000 and is all that has been set aside for water related projects for the necessary for basin plan implementation addressing seawater intrusion into our aquifers.
I object to the use of these funds (generated solely by LOCSD water customers) be used for any other purpose. This reserve fund is funded through water rate revenues and Bayridge Estates is not part of its revenue stream. The “loan” is for sewer collection system repairs that were likely needed as long ago as 1999 when the district was formed and took over its management from the county in anticipation of building sewer ponds in the middle of town. Sagging sewer pipe and root infestation is evidence of shifting sands and high groundwater that’s been going on for a long time.
The county has refused to take over the little sewer system until it is repaired.
More recently, additional repairs were found to be needed and the LOCSD has asked the county to help fund it. Ideally these repairs were to be done before the road resurfacing was done, as part of the community wide sewer project. Poor management has made that impossible, the roadwork is done. But, LOCSD finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Damned if they fix it (borrow from Peter to pay Paul) and damned if they don’t (the county won’t take it over as part of the LOWWP).
This is an additional half a million dollar mistake, put upon us by Director Mike Wright and Kivley. Mike Wright knew this was wrong but let Kivley proceed. There must be a much more personnel relationship here, one that has clouded this president of the boards judgement in not preventing this from moving forward. Or even to demand appropriate fiduciary oversight.
Worse yet, the citizens of Bayridge Estates, and all of Los Osos, are out of the loop as to what’s happening with these repairs and that the costs will be passed down over the next five to seven years as their current annual assessments of $373 for maintenance and repairs to their community septic system will continue until all this debt is repaid. The costs could climb to over $500,000, add in Kathy Kivley’s administrative draw and the number goes up and up.
On the 12 of October the board will be considering Kivley’s performance. My neighbors need to come forward and demand something more honest, transparent and forthright – Kivley must be terminated for cause, anything short of that won’t do.
Tom Salmon is a longtime Los Osos resident with 35 years of expertise in statewide public infrastructure.