CCWD Needs a Change of Leadership


Posted by on Thu, July 9, 2009

Three recent articles in the Half Moon Bay Review relate to water issues on the Coastside and to the performance of the Coastside County Water District (CCWD) board of directors. 

On July 1, the Review reported that developer Charles Keenan surprisingly retained ownership of 93 Beachwood water connections estimated to be worth over $3 million. Half Moon Bay Mayor John Muller is quoted in the story as saying "Somebody missed the boat on it," during the Beachwood negotiations. The CCWD board of directors obviously knew about the 93 water connections parked at Beachwood. My question is: why didn’t they say anything to help the City of Half Moon Bay?

Also on July 1, the Review reported that the trustee in the bankruptcy of the Coastside Family Medical Clinic was accusing the clinic’s board of "squandering the remaining funds…leaving nothing to pay for securing records." How does this relate to water? Well, it turns out that CCWD director Everett Ascher is also president of the medical clinic’s board of directors.

Lastly, on July 8, the Review reported that CCWD is proposing to raise water rates this year by as much as 12 percent, which is "the ninth consecutive rate hike for local water users." The article also noted that CCWD is planning a further 66 percent increase in water rates spread out over the next three years. Where is all this money going? For one thing, to help pay for super-generous employee salaries and benefits. The water district contributes about 15 percent of each employee’s salary toward the pension plan with no need for any contribution from the employee. Employees become vested for lifetime pension payments after only five years of service, and employees may retire as early as age 50.

In Fall 2009, two seats on the CCWD board will be up for election. The incumbents are Everett Ascher and Chris Mickelsen, who has his own interesting history. Their records speak for themselves. Ideally, these entrenched politicians would be termed-out, but unfortunately for voters, the CCWD board is not subject to term limits. It’s long past time for some new leadership on the CCWD board.

Look Kevin,

If you want to cap on the board members that’s one thing but once you start on the employees that is crossing the line. These guys are out there 365 days a year keeping your water flowing. During storms on weekends and on the holidays when your with your family someone is working. Then you start about the benifits….do you even have all the information you need to have this discussion or are you just spouting of to get people to listen to you.

If you want to nit pick benifits why don’t you request a total copmensation package for the city manager or something.

Tim, the explosive growth in CCWD water rates (more than doubling in recent years) is not the fault of the employees. But there is no denying that salaries and benefits are two of the largest components of the water district’s budget.

All over California, the growth of public employee
salaries and benefits has put a strain on local governments and agencies. Look at what happened to the City of Vallejo.

As for the City of HMB, the recent raises given to the City Manager by the City Council when the City is facing a budget crisis are outrageous, as I have written elsewhere.

Kevin didn’t suggest that CCWD employees aren’t working hard. But I’m not sure they work harder than any other Americans. Many CCWD rate payers work hard under difficult circumstances.

A generous private sector pension plan these days is a matching contribution to a 401K plan, up to 10% of an employee’s salary.  I doubt more than a fraction of private sector employees are offered anything like that, and many that are don’t have the money to take advantage of the program.

A 12% rate increase is jaw-dropping in the current economic environment, even without the CCWD’s history of rate increases.