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South County Sanitation District has a new administrator, a year after last one left

Jeremy Ghent has been hired as the new district administrator for the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District.
Jeremy Ghent has been hired as the new district administrator for the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District.

A year after the previous controversial administrator left, the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District has hired a new district administrator.

Jeremy Ghent will take over operations at the South County agency, starting July 2. The Sanitation District board approved his employment contract at its meeting June 14.

"The district has had its ups and downs over the past decade and I am looking forward to assisting staff in providing high-quality service to the rate payers, protecting our coastal environment and participating in solutions to the Central Coast's varied water resource challenges," Ghent said Wednesday.

He said some of his priorities were finding a new chief plant officer, the District's $25 million redundancy project and collaborating with the regional Central Coast Blue water recycling project being led by the city of Pismo Beach.

The South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District board embarked on an ambitious plan this year to improve some of the major structures at its Oceano wastewater treatment plant.

Ghent is a licensed civil engineer and is currently the wastewater operations manager for the County of San Luis Obispo, the district said.

"I believe Mr. Ghent will be able to serve well and long in the position of district administrator," said Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill, who serves as the city's representative on the sanitation district board.

Per his contract, Ghent will receive $12,500 per month — or $150,000 annually — with the potential for a 2.5 percent annual increase and a $100 per month cell phone stipend. The three-year contract stipulates that if Ghent's contract were to be terminated prior to the start of his second year he would receive 12 months' compensation, and 6 months' compensation if it were terminated after.

Ghent was chosen from three finalists after a months-long search to replace former district administrator Gerhardt Hubner. Hubner left the district in July 2017 after a year at its helm.

Hubner received a severance package of $37,500.

Hubner’s tenure with the often embattled district was marked by criticism from a vocal group of residents, as well as opposition from some wastewater treatment plant staff.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie
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