Los Osos needs a change in leadership
August 22, 2016
OPINION by JULIE TACKER
Here we go again; Los Osos Community Services District is looking for a new General Manager. With 16 or so, under its collective 16 year-old belt, the district is asking for proposals from qualified individuals to lead them into the future.
However, the real question is, “what future?”
With the garbage franchise and the wastewater project being handled by the county, Vista de Oro and Bayridge Estates septic systems on their way out, emergency services contracted to Cal Fire, there is very little left for the district to do but for managing the water for one-half of the community. Little bitty drainage and street light districts are all that’s left over.
Meanwhile, there are few, if any, funding sources or possibilities.
In the aftermath of dismissing Kathy Kivley, the district is conducting collateral damage control. Delinquent reports to the proper authorities have been a big problem. Over the last year, the district has been getting letters threatening fines and penalties associated with Social Security Administration, Employment Development Department and State Controller’s Office — misfiling’s, late, or no filings at all.
I recently learned that the district also failed to comply with the terms of its California infrastructure bank loan and its bond holders at U.S. Bank, triggering Standard & Poors to suspend its already abysmal BBB- credit rating. Moreover, board members were unaware the credit rating had been suspended for over a month when I sought the documentation through a public records request and immediately shared it with them.
With the credit rating suspended, the district will be hamstrung from getting loans and grants to implement any water resource projects. This will make it very difficult to live up to its obligations as a partner in the newly formed Basin Management Committee. The lower groundwater basin continues to be threatened by advancing seawater intrusion and key projects need implementation sooner than later. Continued inaction is not an option.
While the district proclaims “transparency,” its general managers have kept board members in the dark over the years. Managers have fought the subcommittee system, where historically this district engages the public early through Brown Act committees manned by citizen volunteers. These committees are on record helping to shape the board decisions for the betterment of the district.
Some district managers are reluctant to embrace these citizens claiming it is ‘too much work’ to prepare for a committee meetings or ‘there’s not enough on the agenda’ to engage them.
It appears these managers are more afraid of criticism or extra eyes on the financials, budgets and audits.
Clearly the district needs the public; it is members of the public, including myself, who have found the inconsistencies and anomalies that equate to costly mistakes.
As a former LOCSD board member I learned, sometimes the hard way, some managers are not always what they represent and that performance speaks volumes about their abilities.
I have been an effective watchdog of local government in Los Osos and throughout SLO County. My highest priority is the residents and ratepayers of Los Osos. My experience, having served as a director from 2004-08, will guide me well in conducting the business of the people. I have thrown my hat in the ring for the upcoming election to serve as a director on the board for the LOCSD, I hope I can count on your vote.