Filled Oceano board off to fiery start

Their first action was to express outrage over late payment

clambert@thetribunenews.comMay 12, 2011 

The Oceano services district board expressed outrage that a $92,000 payment to the county was five months overdue — its first action after it filled two open seats.

Shortly after Rick Searcy and Felma Hurdle were appointed, they joined their colleagues in questioning Oceano’s general manager about the late payment.

“I find it unacceptable because it is a contract nature,” Hurdle said in some of her first remarks on the board. “If some arrangement had been made, I feel it should have been disclosed prior to this setting.”

The Oceano district pays the county about $450,000 a year, in two separate payments, for 303 acre-feet of water from Lopez Lake.

The district paid on time in July, but did not send the second payment, due Jan. 1, said Will Clemens, administrator for the county’s public works department. (The amount was adjusted to $92,035 to reflect a credit from the previous fiscal year, he said.)

Payment was received by the county Wednesday — but too late for some board members.

Member Mary Lucey said the board had directed General Manager Raffaele Montemurro to make the payment in February. Montemurro said he had decided to pay the bill quarterly and called the county to alert them that the bill would be paid later.

“I take full responsibility,” he told the board Wednesday. “I should have paid the bill.”

In response, Lucey said: “You can’t arbitrarily make up a payment schedule.” When reached by phone Thursday, both Lucey and board member Matt Guerrero said the issue would come up again for discussion.

Public works officials sent a past due notice Feb. 14 and followed up with an email Feb. 24, neither of which received a response, Clemens said. Department officials were preparing a letter to notify Oceano that the district was in breach of the contract, Clemens said.

“We were concerned they didn’t have the money to pay it,” he said. A revised letter will be sent, he said.

Oceano has another payment due to the county July 1 for nearly $225,000.

Oceano community services district board

Oceano residents Rick Searcy and Felma Hurdle were sworn in Wednesday night to fill two vacant seats on the board.

Searcy, who works in construction, was first elected in the early 1980s and most recently served on the board from December 2000-2004. Hurdle is a retired correctional peace officer who moved to Oceano in 1970.

They were chosen out of a field of six applicants. Both will be up for re-election in November 2012.

The agency provides sewer, water, street lighting and fire protection services to the community of about 7,200 residents.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service