GOLETA WATER DISTRICT

Released June 21, 2000

INTRODUCTION

Several letters of complaint regarding the Goleta Water District (GWD) prompted the Grand Jury to conduct an investigation into the areas of:

·         Personnel relations and high employee turnover.

·         Chronic under-staffing at Corona Del Mar Water Treatment Plant, causing inadequate maintenance of the facility.

CONCLUSION

The 1999 - 2000 Grand Jury investigated a list of complaints concerning the Goleta Water District.  Lack of observation may have allowed inappropriate behavior to occur at the workplace, but the introduction of a comprehensive Personnel Policies Manual on Aug. 23, 1999 and its enforcement have addressed this problem.  The Grand Jury was also made aware of an acute shortage of staff at the Corona Del Mar Water Treatment Plant.  After investigating GWD's finances, the Grand Jury concluded that the District can afford to hire additional qualified personnel to provide the plant the maintenance it deserves, safeguard the quality of potable water that it delivers to its customers and better prepare it for emergencies.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Grand Jury Finding 1:  The Grand Jury found instances of inappropriate personnel behavior at GWD and an unusually high turnover in the first 10 months of 1999. However, the problems were resolved by management and a Personnel Policies Manual was issued.

Goleta Water District Board of Directors Response to Finding 1:  (Agrees).  The Goleta Water District Board Directors and General Manager discussed the report in its entirety and considered carefully the comments and recommendations.  The response(s) that were sent by the Board of Directors was the entire response of the Goleta Water District, including the General Manager.

Grand Jury Recommendation 1:  The Grand Jury recommends vigilance by management in enforcing its own personnel rules and regulations so that these problems do not recur.

Goleta Water District Board of Directors Response to Recommendation 1:  As part of the “vigilance,”  the Goleta Water District conducted harassment and discrimination training in 1998 and 1999.  Most attorneys specializing in public agency employment law recommend such training every two years.  Our next training is scheduled in 2001.  We would also note, that management received positive comments as a result of this training from certain employees who noticed improved workplace behavior among their peers.

Grand Jury Finding 2:  There is a chronic, acute shortage of staff at Corona Del Mar. Upon reviewing the finances of the District, the Grand Jury  found it to be in excellent financial health.

Goleta Water District Board of Directors Response to Finding 2:  Partially agree.  The Grand Jury found a “chronic, acute shortage of staff at Corona Del Mar.”  We  agree there may be shortage of staff, but would stop short of describing it as a chronic, acute shortage. 

Grand Jury Recommendation 2:  The Grand Jury recommends an expansion of qualified operational staff.  This will extend maintenance beyond the eight hours it now has, protect the capital investment the District has made, relieve stress on its overworked staff, and assure that its customers get the best potable water it can deliver.

Goleta Water District Board of Directors Response to Recommendation 2:  (Agrees).  The District recently created one new operator/maintenance position at Corona del Mar, and has recruited for that position.   In response to the Grand Jury report, we are considering the addition of two more staff positions.