Costa Mesa Sanitary District
Remember the Costa Mesa Sanitary District? That's the organization that facilitates the flushing of your, well, you know, down into the sewer system. They maintain the "sanitary" system and keep things "flowing", if you get my drift.
ANOTHER RATE INCREASE? WHY?
At the last Costa Mesa City Council meeting perpetual councilman Gary Monahan made reference to yet another rate increase being proposed by the Sanitary District Board of Directors. If memory serves, we just did that recently, didn't we?
A NEW MANAGER BEING SOUGHT
I wonder what this is all about? I did notice that the Sanitary District recently announced that long time Manager/District Engineer, Robin Hamers, has dropped the manager job and will concentrate on the technical side of things. There is an interim manager in place - Donald F. McIntyre - but my understanding is that the district is searching for a high-powered person to manage it's operations.
RATE INCREASE TO PAY FOR A NEW MANAGER?
So, what does it cost us, the rate payers, to add another very senior manager to that organization? I wonder if this proposed rate increase is due to the addition to another very highly paid manager?
BUDGET, IF THERE IS ONE, NOT AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW ONLINE
Normally, one might refer to the budget for the organization for some clues. However, the Sanitary District Board has not posted a link to their budget since the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Nothing is available for review for 07-08 or 08-09 and absolutely no mention is made of a new budget for the fiscal year about to begin in two weeks.
07/08 FINANCIAL REPORT AVAILABLE
However, there are audited financial reports available for review. The most recent is for the year ended 6/30/08. The report for 06-07 is "in progress", whatever the heck that means. As I scroll down through the 07/08 financial report I found a very interesting paragraph listed as "Related Party Disclosures".
Here's the text of that segment of the report:
"The District has entered into a contract with Robin B. Hamers and Associates, Inc., to provide management services and engineering services to the District. Robin Hamers, the owner of the Company, is paid a retainer and hourly rate to function as the General Manager and District Engineer. The Company provides other engineering services which are approved by Robin Hamers. The total amount paid to Robin B. Hamers and Associates, Inc. for all these services amounted to $523,105."
IS THIS A GOOD DEAL? HOW WOULD WE KNOW?
This sounds very much like the arrangement the City of Costa Mesa has with the law firm of Jones & Mayer for contract a City Attorney. However, since we have no budget to review for the past couple years, it's difficult to see how this "consulting" arrangement is working out. I wonder, for example, what those "other engineering services" are that Mr. Hamers' organization provides. I looked at the 06/07 Budget worksheet - the only thing available - and found an astounding lack of detail in that report.
DID HAMERS TAKE A CUT?
And, the question hanging right now is, "Has Robin Hamers taken a pay cut since his job has been cut in half?" Seems like a good question to me. Perhaps some concerned citizen could ask the members of the board about it at their next meeting.
Speaking of which, Monahan implied that no one shows up for those board meetings. Nice - no one paying attention to how our taxes are being spent. No wonder he wanted a seat on that particular board!
FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY BEING MET?
I guess I'm very curious about exactly how well the Board of Directors of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to the tax and rate payers of our community. No budget for two years and counting seems curious - and more than a little irresponsible - to me.
NO AGENDAS NOR MINUTES FOR MEETINGS THIS YEAR
I noticed that there is no information at all about the agendas or minutes for any board meetings this calendar year. I could find no information about how frequently the board meets, where and at what time of the day. It seems like much of their work, if it's being done at all, is not done in easy view of their constituents.
TOO MANY QUESTIONS - ASK THE BOARD
This sure does seem like sloppy management, at best. Since there are so many questions, maybe someone should ask the Board members. The Sanitary District web site shows the following names:
Arlene Schafer, President; Robert Ooten, Vice President; Gary Monahan, Secretary; Jim Ferryman, Director and Art Perry, Director. The mailing address is: 628 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. HERE is a link to their web site for more information or, perhaps, more questions.