Digger - August 20, 2010
When asked at the Borrego Water District board's December 2009 meeting if the board had a fiduciary duty to ratepayers the board chair, Kathy King, was quick to respond in the affirmative. It was clear from the abortive "budget workshop" held by BWD on 19 May, however, that BWD board members are not living up to their acknowledged fiduciary responsibilities.
Fiduciaries act on behalf and in the interests of other people; in this case, BWD ratepayers. They are required to always put the interests of those they represent first. They must discharge their duties with appropriate care and in an economical manner. A fiduciary must act with more than merely the skill of a reasonable person; he or she must always perform due diligence with the degree of skill that would be used by a prudent person under similar circumstances.
Since July 2007 the BWD board has approved roughly $4 million in expenditures from District reserves to fund 19 separate capital projects with no complete inventory of the projects, no coherent and integrated capital improvement plan, and no reliable information about costs, sources of funding, and other important details. Board members had, and still have, no idea how the many parts of the district's "shotgun approach" fit together or if they do. The authorized projects are scattered like birdshot.
The District has applied for a number of grants and loans to cover a fraction of the $4 million; but there is no guarantee that any of these will bear fruit.* That means ratepayers are on the hook for an indeterminate amount of money. Vague, oral assurances that everything will work out in the end are not worth the paper they are written on.
The board's primary responsibility is to provide oversight of the District's operations. To do so board members must have sufficient information about those operations to make informed decisions, which they obviously do not. They have confused "oversight," the exercise of watchful and responsible care, with "overlook," missing or ignoring important facts and details. The rate payers of the district will bear the brunt of their confusion.
*A $6+ million loan from the California Infrastructure Bank (I-Bank), on which the district had been counting to defray costs for a number of projects on which it had already spent substantial amounts of money from its reserves, was denied shortly after the above was posted.
|search engine by freefind|