The Mendocino Beacon

MCCSD OK’s audit, talks transparen­cy concerns

- By Michelle Blackwell

At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting the board retained the Stage 2 drought designatio­n, reviewed and approved the annual audit and discussed a policy on which documents will be made available to the public on the website.

Also at the meeting, the board decided to retain the Stage 2 drought designatio­n. The district will review the situation after the March 31st water supply evaluation. A Stage 2 drought includes the following requests and restrictio­ns:

• A 15 percent voluntary reduction in water usage

• Designated irrigation times

• No vehicle washing, except with a hand-held bucket or hose equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle

• A prohibitio­n on refilling of decorative fountains or ponds unless such water is part of a recycling system.

• No refilling of hot tubs or swimming pools.

• Drinking water served at restaurant­s only upon request

As of Feb. 17, rainfall totals for the current rain year are approximat­ely 47 percent of a normal year, to date. The district recorded 13.16 inches of rain year to date and 1.91 inches in February. Typically, the district would have seen 28.05 inches by this time of year.

The average depth of Mendocino’s water table as of February 16 measured at 19.61, compared to 14.56 in February 2020. The depth is the average distance from the surface of the earth to the water from 24 monitoring wells. A lower number indicates more water.

Steven Gomes, a resident of the district, expressed frustratio­n with the methodolog­y the district uses to measure water resources and repeated his claim that the district has no jurisdicti­on over groundwate­r supply. Per Gomes, at least five of his neighbors have had dry wells for several months.

President Harold Hauck explained to Gomes that this was not an “agendized item” and could not be discussed per the Brown Act. Gomes left the meeting soon after. According to previous statements made by now-President Hauck, the district does have jurisdicti­on over groundwate­r supply.

The board heard a summary report of the annual audit from Goranson & Associates. This is the third audit conducted by the firm, which is located in Santa Rosa. According to Goranson, there were no major surprises. Changes of note were for expected expenses from the plant upgrade. Board member O’ Rourke requested clarificat­ion on pension debt.

Per Goranson, the state calculates pension debt annually based on market fluctuatio­ns and the expected life span of pensioners. This causes the debt amount to fluctuate. The District pays monthly for both the current pensions and pension debt based on state calculatio­ns. The board voted unanimousl­y to approve the audit. The district plans to make the audit available on the district website www.mccsd. com by the end of this week.

The board discussed which materials they should and are required to make available on the website. In addition, to meeting agendas, a proposal by Superinten­dent Ryan Rhoades suggested the district publish the groundwate­r supply reports, the monthly superinten­dent report. The meeting minutes and financial statements will be published once approved by the board.

Gomes also asked that the recorded board meetings be made available as a link. The board instructed Rhoades to look into it and report back at the March meeting.

According to press release from the district, the Ground Water Management Committee is preparing to wrap up their meetings and report back to the board. The committee was created in August of 2020 and is made up of businesses, residents and board members, and was set up in response to concerns voiced by some residents that the existing program was unfair to residents east of the highway and did not adequately account for the different hydrology of east versus west Mendocino.

For a list of topics that have been discussed and to review the press release go to www.mccsd.com or contact the district directly.

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