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Oceano seeking interim manager for services district

More than a week after the Oceano services district board fired its top manager, board members of the small water and sewer agency are still searching for an interim general manager.

A former office manager who was tapped to fill in after Raffaele Montemurro was dismissed stayed a day. Since then, board members have been helping out around the office when they can, board Vice President Matt Guerrero said.

The board dismissed Montemurro on May 31 in a unanimous vote but did not decide whether to dismiss him for good cause or not, said Molly Thurmond, the board’s attorney on Wednesday.

The board set a special meeting for today at 1:30 p.m. to consider a settlement agreement with Montemurro, the terms of which were not disclosed.

According to Montemurro’s contract, if he was dismissed for cause, the board would not have to pay a severance.

Montemurro was hired in October 2009 as the district’s fifth general manager in four years, including two interim managers.

The board also held a special meeting Sunday at which it decided to contact Santa Maria-based United Staffing Associates to try to find a temporary hire.

So far, that effort has been unsuccessful.

In the meantime, the board and the remaining office staff have been moving as fast as they can to pay bills, put together a budget and determine where they stand financially.

“You’re seeing a board that is very united,” Guerrero said during a meeting Wednesday. “(One) that wants to see economic liability, and safe and reliable delivery of services.”

But as board members try to reassure the public, questions about past financial decisions continue to surface.

Board member Felma Hurdle shared a conversation Wednesday she had with accounting firm Moss, Levy & Hartzheim, which is handling the district’s 2009-10 audit.

The auditors still do not have all the documents they need to complete the audit, Hurdle said, but is hopeful the audit will be completed by the end of June, if the firm receives the information in a timely manner.

A new accounting and financial computer system that came online during Montemurro’s tenure is causing the board headaches.

The system was purchased from Tyler Technologies more than a year ago for about $236,000 to replace an outdated computer system. Since then, new data including billing and payroll information has been plugged into it.

But a letter recently came to light that questions the accuracy of the data in the new system — and will likely lead district officials to rebuild the system.

In January, a Tyler Technologies vice president wrote a letter to Montemurro cautioning he did not provide back-up data to verify the information, including payroll data, given to the company.

Elven Corder, vice president of implementation at Tyler, cautioned the new data shouldn’t be relied on for any type of decision, nor should it be submitted to any auditing authority.

Montemurro and board President Lori Angello signed the letter, acknowledging the acceptance of the data “in its current unverifiable condition.”

Angello said Thursday she felt it was the right thing to do to get the district caught up.

The information in the new system is from this year, and so it should not affect the board’s overdue audits for past years, Guerrero said.

Sharon Naccarati, a contract programmer who has worked for the district for 30 years, is extracting financial information out of the district’s outdated computer to get the agency caught up.

Naccarati was not involved in providing the initial data to Tyler Technologies. At a January board meeting, she advised the board that the district did not have a clear plan to transfer the data out of the old system, and its general ledger was 19 months behind.

Interim general manager sought

The Oceano Community Services District Board has posted a job opening on its website for an interim general manager. The deadline to apply is Thursday at 5 p.m. On June 17, the board’s two-person personnel committee will meet to select up to eight people they want to interview. Telephone interviews will take place June 20-21, with the top applicants brought in for interviews before the full board June 22. For more information, go to www.oceanocsd.org/agendas/IGM.pdf.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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