Gerhardt Hubner’s new math

June 12, 2017

Linda Austin

OPINION by JULIE TACKER

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District Administrator Gerhardt Hubner has discovered a way to spend more money than the district received; but still ending up with a surplus.

Hubner’s beginning fund balance was $5,561,123; district revenues were $3,485,758, over nine months the district spent $3,813,284. Simple math would lead one to believe that the district experienced a reduction of $327,536. Instead, Hubner’s report suggests the total fund balance is $5,675,164, an increase of $114, 041. His calculations and apparent misreporting suggest $441,577 in the districts favor.

During Hubner’s third quarter reporting and review of district finances, sanitation district board member and Arroyo Grande Mayor, Jim Hill questioned the reports accuracy.

In an effort to understand the numbers, prior to the meeting, Hill emailed a list of questions to Hubner. Hill didn’t receive a reply until open session when Hubner made impertinent, rude and condescending written answers dropped on the dais for the board to look at during the meeting – copies were made for the public.

Gerhardt Hubner

After being confronted with the discrepancy, Hubner insisted that the reported numbers were accurate. At one point he attempted to justify the numbers by noting that using monies from Fund 20 (the districts expansion fund) caused confusion. He went on to explain that he adhered to past practices by dipping into those funds and was clearly irritated with mayor Hill because he did not accept Hubner’s explanation.

Hubner assured the board that these numbers were correct — no matter what anyone who disagreed might say. He is so confident in his numbers; he has based the sanitation district’s draft 2017-18 budget on them. Yet, the discrepancy remains.

What’s alarming is that Grover Beach Mayor John Shoals and Oceano CSD’s Linda Austin accepted the report with this glaring irregularity. Austin, who appears to fully support Hubner, suggested she had Hubner explain the numbers to her previously and was satisfied with his answers to her questions.

Ultimately, the report was “received and filed” by the board, with Mayor Hill voting, “respectfully, no.” Hubner appears to have Austin and Shoals completely buffaloed.

Hubner’s 2017-18 proposed $7.5 million budget marks the second consecutive year he has produced a budget with over $2 million of deficit spending. Reminiscent of the “John Wallace years” the district is deficit spending on legal bills and drawing down reserves intended for the Redundancy Project.

Last year, the sanitation district embarked on an aggressive eight-year rate increase to build that project. Those revenues appear to be siphoned off for expenses other than redundancy.

Linda Austin was recently elected and is Vice-President of the Oceano CSD, she’s president of the Oceano Depot Association, secretary of the Oceano Advisory Committee and a longtime revered Oceano business woman. The voters and ratepayers of Oceano expect Austin’s scrutiny over every dollar.

Her blind support for this administrator is a throwback to similar support she expressed for former Oceano CSD General Manager Tom Geaslen, who pocketed over $45,000 of public funds right under the noses of the board. She was so indoctrinated that she, and a handful of other Oceano residents, wore T-shirts to a meeting saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” in response to criticism levied against Geaslen’s management style and effectiveness.

John Shoals has been on and off the Grover Beach City Council for over 15 years, and served as mayor several times — he terms out in 2018. Shoals takes great pride in his role settling the sanitation district litigation with the water board and securing a permit for the redundancy project; yet when it comes to brass tacks, he lacks oversight.

Last year Shoals was personally fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission for missing 2014 campaign filing deadlines and since October of 2016 Shoals has been embroiled in another FPPC investigation for years of failing to report personal financial interests.

Beyond the financial missteps, it appears Hubner has plunged employee morale to a low only compared to the Wallace era personnel issues including claims, grievances and other human resource matters. The majority of staff has sought union protection and its top two employees have been out on paid administrative leave since early March.

Hubner has made a costly mess, aided and abetted by Austin and Shoals. Now they are heading into a new fiscal year using Hubner’s new math.

 







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11 Comments

  1. SLOBIRD says:

    His budget and financial reporting reflects new math alright, it’s called Common Core. Lichtig has been using it for years, don’t pay into the Pension Plan, accumulate the debt and add the budget as 2 and 2 equal negative 1 (meaning we spent less than we took in and therefore the budget is ahead so move on, nothing here). These government career administrators must all go to a private class after joining their rank! Sacramento is the worst…

    (9) 21 Total Votes - 15 up - 6 down
    • Freshlook says:

      What about the Directors? Linda Austin is a business owner. John Shoals is a municipal planner and an investor. Why would they not require accurate accounting? Obviously, Hubner is not familiar with common business accounting. Nor is he concerned about balanced budgeting. The Board should step up and protect the ratepayers.

      (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        Both Shoals and Austin are supported by “Special Interest” and they have no desire to upset their gravy train. Why anyone would vote for Shoals is beyond me! Obviously, the same people that vote for Shoal vote for Hill which says a lot about the moral compass and/or intellect of the folks in District 3. They are Progressive Democrats and as long as their agenda moves forward that don’t care who represents them in Districts 2 and 3. Just look at who they elected in SLO as mayor!

        (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
  2. pensatore says:

    What do you expect when hiring someone who worked for the regional quality control board? he worked for former CEO briggs and current RWQCB minion thomas.

    (15) 25 Total Votes - 20 up - 5 down
  3. 1965buick says:

    Alternative…

    (-2) 8 Total Votes - 3 up - 5 down
  4. Otis says:

    Fraud is the delight of the artistic accountant.

    (14) 26 Total Votes - 20 up - 6 down
  5. Ricky2 says:

    Running down reserve funds. Isn’t that what Lichtig does at SLOcity? Must be a habit when the money isn’t yours.

    (31) 39 Total Votes - 35 up - 4 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Lichtig just doesn’t care, she’ll retire in a few years and have her pension for life and could care less that SLO is broke.

      (14) 16 Total Votes - 15 up - 1 down
  6. Pelican1 says:

    A short clip from the meeting…….

    (19) 31 Total Votes - 25 up - 6 down
  7. laftch says:

    And the beat goes on, la de da da de, la de da da dum.

    (22) 36 Total Votes - 29 up - 7 down
  8. Rich in MB says:

    More Shenanigans at the Local Sanitation District.
    Maybe we should give him a promotion to run the SLO Pension Fund…he’s obviously great with Imaginary numbers.

    (29) 47 Total Votes - 38 up - 9 down

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