Grand Jury blasts San Lorenzo Valley Water Management District
by Jon Chown
Jun 19, 2014 | 2566 views | 3 3 comments | 55 55 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District lacks proper oversight as the board of directors has relinquished its responsibility to oversee the finances to the executive director, according to the 2014 Santa Cruz Grand Jury Report released Tuesday.

The report listed a number of serious problems with the agency, including violations of the Brown Act regarding open meetings, delayed budget approvals and more. It chastised SLWMD for making “it difficult for ratepayers to obtain public records from the district office by requiring prior approval from the district manager,” and criticizes it for failing to conduct an annual review of District Manager Jim Mueller. According to the report, “the Board did not conduct a performance evaluation of its District Manager for fiscal year 2012­-2013, despite its own policy which requires annual reviews.”

San Lorenzo Valley Water District was established in 1941. Its water system includes 150 miles of water mains, most of which are more than 70 years old. It has more than 7,300 customers in Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Felton and the surrounding area, even supplying water to a portion of Scotts Valley. The board proposed a 65 percent rate increase in 2013.

The grand jury wrote that it decided to analyze the district because the ratepayers’ trust in it has eroded while the county deals with an ongoing drought. The district is also considering a merger with Lompico County Water District.

Management of water resources requires a board that is engaged, a district that is transparent, and an informed public with confidence that the board is looking out for its best interests,” the report says.

But, according to the Grand Jury, none of this is happening at SLVWD. The board of directors’ primary duty is financial oversight of the district, but according to the report, they’ve not done the job. One major focus of the report is the district’s investments of about $6 million, which are not in compliance with the district’s policies or state law because too much money is in CDs, rather than bonds.

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Carla Greenwald
July 01, 2014
Santa Cruz Sentinel? Are you listening? Newsworthy article here.

Kim Portland
June 20, 2014
This has been going on for 20 years. Finally a grand jury exposes San Lorenzo Valley Water District malfeasance, and a local paper is courageous enough to print the story.

There's hope for local journalism and citizen process.

BUT, shouldn't it be the board which is "released without cause" rather than its general manager?
Colette Farkas
June 20, 2014
Yes, much gratitude for the sunlight provided by the SVLWD Watchdogs who helped expose decades of malfeasance and the press for not covering up such things. Much gratitude for those who took the time to bring about this beginning of much needed change. Looking forward to coverage of election debates.

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