The Los Osos Community Services District has named its third general manager in less than a year — Grace Environmental Services, a Thousands Oaks-based firm.
At a meeting held Thursday, the district board hired the firm at the rate of $6,502 per month, the equivalent of $78,024 per year, on an at-will contract.
The contract will remain in effect each month unless either party gives 30-day notice.
The firm has assigned Renee Samaniego Osborne, who lives in Morro Bay, as an in-house staff person, starting Oct. 27. Osborne has administered the San Simeon Community Services District and will transition to a new role with the Los Osos CSD.
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We think having somebody local with Renee’s experience will help the CSD to be able to provide good services to customers.
Marshall Ochylski, Los Osos CSD board president
Osborne will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as needed, board president Marshall Ochylski said.
“Renee will be the person providing the general manager services to the district with backup support as needed from Grace Environmental,” Ochylski said. “We think having somebody local with Renee’s experience will help the CSD to be able to provide good services to customers.”
The contract doesn’t include retirement or health benefits, which will be provided by Grace Environmental.
The district ended its interim contract with Peter Kampa, a special district management consultant based in Sonora, on Sept. 30. Kampa took over on Feb. 12 and worked to help make sure the district’s finances were in order.
The district was paying Kampa $8,083 per month, the equivalent of about $97,000 per year, under the agreement.
“His primary purpose was to secure a clean audit,” Ochylski said. “We had a clean audit this year, and our books are in order.”
The most important function of the CSD right now is to provide democratic and local control over the future of our water basin.
Jon-Erik Storm, Los Osos CSD board director
The district’s finances had come into question while under the supervision of General Manager Kathy Kivley, who had faced scrutiny in an independent audit that found discrepancies in the accounting for fiscal year 2013-14.
A key finding of the audit identified changes that Kivley made to bookkeeping entries.
The firm recommended the district accountant handle those duties solely. Kivley maintained the accounting discrepancies were caused by previous staffers and software limitations.
Kivley, who earned an annual salary of $99,000 per year, left the district under a confidential separation agreement.
“The most important function of the CSD right now is to provide democratic and local control over the future of our water basin,” district director Jon-Erik Storm said.
“No other agency can or does do that,” Storm said. “That’s why we chose Grace Environmental, who has a great record in water, especially in San Simeon where they have been successful at getting grants instead of hitting up ratepayers and taxpayers. That’s what the board wanted.”