Last year’s board of the Templeton Community Services District behaved as a dysfunctional group, canceled too many regular meetings and didn’t allow adequate time for the public to comment, according to a new grand jury report.
The San Luis Obispo County civil grand jury investigated the services district after hearing complaints last year from current and former employees alleging misbehavior on the part of some board members and the general manager, who is not identified by name.
General Manager Jeff Hodge unexpectedly resigned in December and left in January. In his resignation letter, Hodge blamed one of the board members for pushing him out.
The district then hired David Andres in February as interim general manager, and earlier this month appointed a permanent manager, 41-year-old Jeff Briltz, who served as Lemoore’s city manager for nearly nine years. Briltz started in Templeton on Wednesday.
“A lot has changed here since the grand jury’s review,” Briltz said, including two new board members elected in November and changes in district personnel. “Just for those reasons alone I don’t know that it (the report) is reflective of the current state of affairs.”
The Templeton board approved a response at Tuesday’s meeting, conceding that there had been some strife at the district during the grand jury’s review, but that several policy and administrative changes have taken place over the past six months “to renew the district’s commitment to open, transparent and effective governance.”
In its report, titled “Trouble in Templeton’s Community Services District,” the grand jury found the board of directors had not allowed adequate time on their agendas for public input; had canceled regular meetings and replaced them with special meetings without much advance notice; and circumvented a “chain of command” with the general manager by going straight to employees.
Grand jurors found the district did not have a current set of personnel rules and regulations for employees, nor was its website updated with updated minutes or current and relevant budget information for the public.
The district board disagreed with some of the findings and noted some policy changes to ensure citizens have three minutes to speak on each subject at meetings, and another to ensure advanced notice is provided for meeting cancellations. The district board also adopted a personnel manual in 2005, but is in the process of updating it.
The website has not yet been updated with approved minutes but is expected to do so by Oct. 31. An updated budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which the board approved this week, is currently available on the district website.
In addition, some of the people interviewed mentioned a problem with one board member — not mentioned by name — who they believe was rude to the public, had verbally attacked staff and alienated other board members.
When jurors interviewed the general manager, he announced at the beginning of the interview that he was resigning from the district and was openly bitter about his relationship with one board member.
Grand jury reports are not binding. To read the report, go to http://slocourts.net/grand_jury/reports. The response can be viewed at http://www.templetoncsd.org/AgendaCenter (go to the June 18 item that states “grand jury response”).