Monday, 25 September 2023

Water district board awards audit contract, changes meeting times

CLEARLAKE OAKS – The Clearlake Oaks County Water District Board officially received the resignation of one of its members on Wednesday, and took several steps to adjust its procedures in response to requests from ratepayers.


Longtime board member Pat Shaver submitted her resignation on Monday, as Lake County News has reported.


On Saturday, during a meeting to discuss the district's proposed rate hikes for water and sewer services, numerous community members had called for Shaver's recall, along with that of board Vice President Mike Anisman.


Community member Mike Benjamin circulated a petition for a recall notice of intent effort against both Anisman and Shaver. During Wednesday's meeting, he served the paperwork on Anisman.


The board will advertise Shaver's open position and seek applicants to fill it, with district General Manager Darin McCosker reporting that the position must be filled in 60 days.


Several actions were taken at the meeting to address transparency and the district's fiscal situation.


The board voted to hire Larry Bain to do audits for 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08, which are mandated by the state. The cost will be $23,700, the lowest of three bids submitted.


In addition to fulfilling state requirements, it's hoped by the board and ratepayers in attendance at the meeting that the audits will clear up the district's financial picture.


Bookkeeper Jana Saccato said the district owes nearly $189,000, not counting new bills that have just come in. She assured ratepayers that there is enough money to cover all checks being written, which wasn't the case in previous years, when thousands of dollars in late fees and overdraft charges accumulated on the district's checking account.


Documents Saccato provided to the board show that the board's checking account went from more than $56,000 at the end of July to just over $7,000 on Aug. 18, as the district continues to try to pay off outstanding debt.


Income and expense comparisons for January through July of 2007 and 2008, prepared by Saccato – which board members said weren't prepared under the previous general manager – showed the district's income is starting to more regularly outpace its bills this year, largely the opposite of 2007.


Board member Frank Toney's proposal to form a standing finance committee also was approved. The committee will include Toney and McCosker, board member Harry Chase and Mike Benjamin.


Town resident Judy Heeszel indicated interest in participating, and McCosker suggested adding Bob Summerrill, a former board member who submitted a detailed set of suggestions for goals the committee should pursue.


Because it's a standing committee, it will be subject to the Brown Act, which requires agendas being posted 72 hours in advance of meetings.


In response to requests from ratepayers, the board decided to move meeting times to allow for more public participation.


The board usually meets in the afternoon on the third Wednesday of the month. However, at the Saturday rate hike meeting community members asked the board to move the meetings to a time when more people could attend. The meetings will now be held on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.


McCosker said Wednesday that his staff has been overwhelmed by requests for documents by community members in light of the rate hike proposal and the growing concern over the district's fiscal health.


Saccato also reported that the district received 427 letters opposing the 39.4-percent rate increases for sewer and water. The district is now proposing other rate hike options, including 25 percent and 10 percent.


For information about the open board position, visit the district's Web site at www.clocwd.com.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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