Sacramento County Grand Jury deficiency findings, recommendations of Elk Grove Water District



FINDINGS

F1. The FRCD Board decided to alter its basic mission, without benefit of an outside review or other investigation, relying solely on a staff report. The three options did not consider the legal differences between Resource Conservation Districts and Water Districts.

F2. Because Board Members are elected at large from the entire area of the FRCD and not from within the smaller boundary of the EGWD, equitable representation of rate-payers may be denied.

F3. The FRCD complied with all legal requirements with its decision to adopt a rate increase at the July 18, 2018 Board meeting.

F4. The FRCD erred in setting the protest deadline at July 2, 2018, as Prop 218 mandates that written protests be accepted until and at the public rate hearing (scheduled to be July 18, 2018).

F5. FRCD is actively working to reduce its debt, debt service and bond retirement payments, while maintaining an adequate debt service coverage ratio.

F6. The FRCD did not follow its own policy when extending the current Legal Counsel’s contract, which led to the creation of an unfair hiring practice.

F7. Because the FRCD policy manual is silent on interim contracts, the potential exists for extending interim contracts in lieu of soliciting proposals for professional services.

F8. FRCD is unable to monitor leaks and pressure losses in a timely manner. This is a public safety issue and a potential liability for FRCD.

F9. After voting to award health benefits to Board members, no further action was taken, no policies were created, and no health insurance benefits were awarded to Board members. The Board could institute health benefits for themselves with no further public discussion.

F10. The practice of conducting closed sessions after open sessions at the Board meeting may lead to an uninformed public and forestalls knowledge or comments. This practice does not encourage public engagement.

F11. Candidate pools for Board Member seats are so low that elections are sometimes not required. As a consequence, Board members are appointed by the County Board of Supervisors, denying a voice to the public in selection of those who represent them.

F12. The lack of adequate Board member awareness of regulations, operations, and institutional history can lead to poor decisions on the part of the Board and leads to an over-reliance on the General Manager and staff.

F13. There is a pronounced lack of public oversight of the FRCD, as shown by poorly attended meetings and few Board candidates.

RECOMMENDATIONS

R1. The FRCD Board should review its decision, by December 31, 2019, to alter its basic mission. This action should be taken with an expanded view, educating both the Board and the general public about the differences between Resource Conservation Districts and Water Districts. This review should include the use of outside consultants and expanded public participation and engagement.

R2. The FRCD Board of Directors should complete its updated Strategic Plan by June 30, 2020. The new Strategic Plan should include a discussion of its long-term vision and its long-range mission. This discussion should include a comprehensive review of the mission of the FRCD, whether it should continue as an independent district (either as an RCD or a water district) or consolidate with another area water provider (such as SCWA Zone 40). 

R3. FRCD should consider, by June 30, 2020, a plan to ensure that only those people living within the EGWD boundary are eligible to become Board members. Board members should be elected from within EGWD boundaries to ensure equitable representation of the population served.

R4. FRCD should review its actions during the most recent water rate study and rate increase approval, by June 30, 2020, to ensure that such future actions follow the protest period mandated under Proposition 218. Action should be taken to review and amend Board policies to ensure that future rate studies and proposals for rate increases conform to the procedures outlined in Proposition 218.

R5. FRCD should review and amend, by December 31, 2019, contracting policies for professional and consultant services to address time limits, types of professional services and other requirements.

R6. FRCD should develop, by December 31, 2019, new policies relative to interim contracting for professional services for board approval. Minimize the use of interim contracts and maximize the use of standard contracts using a competitive process for professional services.

R7. FRCD should begin, by December 31, 2019, the process of planning and installing flowmeters in its main water transmission lines to monitor for breaks, pressure losses, etc. These monitoring devices should also be connected to an automatic alert system for on-call emergency employees.

R8. FRCD should rescind its vote approving health benefits for Board members, by September 30, 2019, since no action has ever been taken to implement them.

R9. FRCD should conduct its closed sessions before general Board meetings to ensure the public is notified timely of any actions resulting from those closed sessions. Board bylaws should be updated, by December 31, 2019, to address timing of closed sessions.

R10. FRCD should establish policy, by December 31, 2019, to ensure a programmatic onboarding process for new Board Members that includes both policy and operations. In addition, FRCD should establish, by December 31, 2019, a web-page with Board policies for public review.

R11. FRCD should, on an ongoing basis, expand its outreach to its ratepayers, in order to increase their engagement with the business and activities of the district. This could include, but is not limited to, increased inserts with ratepayer’s monthly bills, enhanced web interaction, media outreach, such as a periodic column in the Elk Grove Citizen or other avenues, and practical workshops for ratepayers. FRCD should also engage with both the California Special Districts Association and the Institute for Local Government to learn about any other outreach efforts that are possible.

REQUIRED RESPONSES

Pursuant to Penal Code sections 933 and 933.05 the grand jury requests responses as follows: From the following elected official within 90 days:

 Florin Resources Conservation District Board of Directors

Tom Nelson, Chair

9257 Elk Grove Boulevard

Elk Grove, California 95624

Mail or hand-deliver a hard copy response to by September 30, 2019 to:

David De Alba, Presiding Judge Sacramento County Superior Court 720 9 th Street, Dept. 47 Sacramento, CA 95814

In addition, please email response to:

Becky Castaneda, Grand Jury Coordinator at castanb@saccourt.com 

INVITED RESPONSE

 Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission Donald Lockhart, Executive Director 1112 I Street, Suite 100 Sacramento, Ca 95814

Mail or hand-deliver a hard copy response to:

David De Alba, Presiding Judge Sacramento County Superior Court 720 9 th Street, Dept. 47 Sacramento, CA 95814 In addition, please email response to:

Becky Castaneda, Grand Jury Coordinator at castanb@saccourt.com










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