The district fired Michael Eggleston without naming a cause at its board meeting March 4.
“We did it the way the lawyer recommended it,” Lois Henry, the board president, said.
Henry said the board could dismiss the district manager without notice because he was an at-will employee.
Eggleston, who worked for the district more than 20 years, declined to discuss the board’s reasons for letting him go, instead offering a positive view of the situation.
“The Lompico County Water District operates on a tight budget with a limited water supply and a very small staff,” Eggleston wrote in an e-mail. “In order for this district to function effectively, staff and board have to be on the same page. However, the current atmosphere at the district has been adversarial and divisive, which makes the management of a district challenging.”
Eggleston said he oversaw the district through six federal- and state-declared disasters, secured grants to pay for a water treatment plant and oversaw the building of a new well in the district.
“My tenure with the district has been long and rewarding, and I have the warmest regards for the district customers and former board members that have supported me over the years,” Eggleston wrote.
The district, which is under investigation by the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury, nearly ran out of money in the fall before enacting a water rate increase. It is also looking for ways to repair leaky water tanks that provide water to the 500-connection system.
Henry said the board might hire a credentialed water consultant instead of replacing Eggleston with another full-time manager. The district has two full-time maintenance workers and a secretary.
“There are a lot of financial issues, so we’re trying to keep our head above water,” Henry said.
Eggleston’s dismissal came after the district’s secretary was fired amid claims that she stole money from the district. As of March 10, no report had been filed with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in connection with that case, but the district attorney’s office is involved.
Board member Jane Wyckoff resigned from the board last month, citing health concerns. No one has yet been appointed to her place, and the district will take applications until April 7 to fill the vacancy.