Four candidates running for three four-year seats answered questions from the Templeton residents in attendance. Board members oversee a narrow set of responsibilities, including water, waste management and fire services. The county takes care of land planning and zoning — district board members can only advocate on Templeton’s behalf.
Budgeting and finances
Candidates proposed ideas for managing Templeton’s limited resources while also advocating for more county funds. When asked about the most significant issue facing Templeton, nearly all the candidates cited the budget as a top concern. And when asked what one thing they would give Templeton in a world without budgetary restrictions, the candidates suggested more funding and increased control over planning.
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“Our budget is not keeping up with our expenses,” said Pamela Jardini, a 59-year-old land-use planner.
Debra Logan, a 62-year-old retired healthcare manager, discussed an increased need for services in the district, citing an increase in calls for medical aid.
“I think it’s going to take some real creative thinking in terms of how to solve for some of these problems without increasing the cost to the community,” she said.
Rob Rosales, a 56-year-old real estate broker, said the district had been putting off “repairs, upgrades, replacements” due to the recession, which board members would need to take on in coming years.
“Those costs remain, and, matter of fact, keep increasing,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to be financially conservative, yet adjust our needs to address those issues.”
Navid Fardanesh, a 45-year-old dentist, suggested water would also be a significant issue for the district and Templeton residents. It will be important for board members to ensure the district continues to get its allocation from Lake Nacimiento and maintains the Atascadero basin as a water source.
“We have to be prepared for many years of drought coming,” he said.
Fees and funding for recreational facilities
Attendees also asked about improvements to trails, bike paths and the Len’s Place Community Center. Candidates said it would be important for board members to be advocates for Templeton and push for more funding from the county.
Jardini brought up Quimby fees — money generated from the creation of residential lots — which are paid in Templeton but are allocated by the county because the district is not an incorporated city.
“I’ve had discussions already with board members about (keeping) a portion of those Quimby fees local here,” Jardini said. “I think other communities, such as Cambria, Cayucos, Oceano, who also pay Quimby fees, would get behind us.”
Logan said parks and trails “make a community more desirable to live in.” But the district may not have the money for new or improved facilities at the present time, she said.
“There is, I think it sounds like, a desire,” Logan said. “But whether or not we have the revenue to provide that is another question. That’s the challenge.”
Rosales also said he’s tired of seeing Quimby fees he thinks should stay in Templeton go to other communities in the North County.
“They go to things like Barney Schwartz Park,” he said. “The justification there was, ‘Well, it’s a regional park, so it does serve the residents of Templeton,’ and things like that. It goes to San Miguel. I think as a lead agency and a voice for the community, the service district does have an opportunity to have standing and take a position and be more of an advocate.”
Fardanesh said the district should collaborate with the county to make sure Templeton residents are well-represented. In this way, board members could even try to negotiate bike lanes or parks into new development deals.
“I’d like to make that a priority to where we need to sit down with the staff at the county level and let them know what our needs are,” he said. “That’s how we could advocate for our community.”