South County sanitation district officials dispute grand jury report

clambert@thetribunenews.comSeptember 29, 2011 

The assertions and conclusions in a San Luis Obispo County grand jury report criticizing the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District were “largely inaccurate,” according to a response from wastewater treatment plant officials.

The grand jury report, released June 2, alleged a conflict of interest exists at the sanitation district because John Wallace serves as the treatment plant’s administrator while his engineering firm, the Wallace Group, provides engineering services for the district.

The district serves about 38,000 people in Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano.

The district was required to respond to the grand jury’s report by late August. In its 12-page rebuttal signed by board Chair Bill Nicolls, a Grover Beach councilman, the board states it does not believe a conflict of interest exists.

“The grand jury’s depiction of the board of directors as being generally ‘unaware’ is both inaccurate and offensive,” the board wrote.

To support its stance, the board points to a 1993 grand jury report that dealt with a similar situation at the San Simeon Community Services District. At the time, Wallace served as the district’s general manager, and his engineering firm provided some services to the district.

The 1993 grand jury concluded that no conflict of interest existed on the part of any district board members or employees.

This year’s grand jury did not mention the 1993 report as part of its investigation.

Read the current grand jury’s report and the district’s response at http://slocourts.net/grand_jury/reports.

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