Saturday, 20 April 2024

Two more members resign from water district board

CLEARLAKE OAKS – Two more members of the Clearlake Oaks County Water District Board have resigned, bringing the total vacancies on the board to three and leaving it without an active quorum in order to meet.


Board President Helen Locke and Vice President Mike Anisman both submitted resignation letters to General Manager Darin McCosker on Thursday, which Locke and Anisman confirmed to Lake County News.


Both resignations will become effective on Sept. 5, the outgoing board members said.


Locke said the delay until Sept. 5 is in order to give the district two weeks to establish a new signature authority for specific documents and contracts the board president is required to sign.


Anisman did not detail his reasons for leaving, although he had been considering his options in light of last Saturday's heated rate hike meeting. He had left that meeting in the wake of what he considered to be verbal abuse by ratepayers.


Later in that meeting, community member Mike Benjamin began circulating a petition for a notice of intent to file a recall action against Anisman and another board member, Pat Shaver.


Shaver tendered her resignation on Monday, as Lake County News has reported.


At Wednesday's regular board meeting, Benjamin served Anisman with his intent to pursue the recall which, had Anisman not resigned, could have cost the district several thousand dollars for a special election.


Locke, who had indicated earlier this week that she wanted to keep working with the board, said it was not "any one thing" that led to her decision to step down.


She did some soul searching and came to the decision, which has left her with mixed feelings of guilt and relief.


Anisman, Locke and board member Frank Toney were elected to the board last November. Earlier this year, the board appointed McCosker as general manager to succeed Ellen Pearson, who stepped down to the auditor/secretary role. In March the board terminated Pearson.


It was in March or April that the board discovered its financial problems, said Locke.


Those issues included thousands of dollars in bills that hadn't been paid or had been paid late, resulting in late fees; Internal Revenue Service penalties; next to nothing left of the district's reserves, which 10 years ago had totaled $1.3 million, as Lake County News has reported.


"I have lain awake at night, every night, worrying about how we were going to pay our bills," said Locke.


The district this spring suggested a 39.4-percent hike of both sewer and water rates, which has garnered 427 protest letters and resulted in the board's once-empty meetings now drawing standing-room-only attendance.


Since the original rate hike proposal, McCosker has suggested two new options for raising rates – one amount to 25 percent, the other 10 percent.


The board on Wednesday voted to hire an auditing firm and moved meeting times to the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. to allow for more public participation.


But just when the board will next be able to meet is so far unclear.


The only remaining board members are Toney and Harry Chase. In order to make an appointment to replace the other board members, the district has to publish the seats' availability, take applications and meet to make a selection, which it can't do without a quorum. McCosker said Wednesday an empty seat must be filled in 60 days.


Locke said how the board moves forward will be a complicated matter.


"I don't think it's going to get much better for a while," she said.


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


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