I’ve always particularly liked San Miguel. So I was saddened recently to read two stories in The Tribune about the San Miguel Community Services District. The stories told of conflict within the district’s five-member board of directors.
One story reported that Richard Harrison resigned last week after 15 years on the board. He was the board president.
His resignation letter said certain unnamed board members were meeting privately, were threatening district employees and want the district to pay board members. Harrison fears that paying board members would take funds needed for public services.
The Tribune’s second story on the San Miguel CSD concerned last week’s board meeting. Board vice president John Green proposed reimbursing each director up to $600 per month for district-related expenses. The other three board members disagreed. The idea was dropped, but it could come back.
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The district’s bylaws already permit paying each board member a monthly stipend of $100. But throughout the district’s 15-year history, no director ever collected it. One former board member said he felt it would be like taking the money from his neighbors.
San Miguel is a small town. The 2010 census reported its population was 2,336. It may now be 2,500, and many of them probably know board members.
All this reminds me of Randall Stewart. I wrote about him in 1972 when San Miguel was even smaller. Stewart, all by himself, was the town’s water department and sewer department. He was also its fire chief. His office was in his home and his pickup.
He tended water pumps and repaired and read water meters. He prepared and mailed water bills and collected them. People paid their water bills at his house, even on weekends or in the evenings or during his supper.
He also operated the sewer system, took minutes at the sanitary district board meetings, dealt with the Water Quality Control Board and assisted the engineers designing a new sewage treatment plant.
But San Miguel is now growing. It has finally recovered from its Camp Roberts boom-and-bust cycles during World War II and the Korean War. You can now see some new business buildings in San Miguel and many new houses, with more being built.
So maybe it’s now time for the directors of the services district to get that $100 per month, or maybe not, or maybe more. That’s up to the directors, but first they should discuss it with their neighbors.
People of San Miguel, please attend the directors’ meetings regularly. They need your advice, whether they want it or not.