The Cambrian

District optimistic on desal test funding

I t will cost about $183,000 less in this fiscal year for water delivery, sewage treatment, fire-fighting, open space and other services in Cambria, as compared with the 2009-2010 year, according to a budget approved June 24 by services district directors.

The Cambria Community Services District’s upcoming operating budget will be about $7.5 million, despite increases in salaries and benefits mandated by previous multi-year contracts.

Directors made no changes and few comments on the operating budget itself before approving it 4-0. Nobody in the meeting’s audience commented on the document. Director Frank DeMicco was absent.

Comments during the budget hearing mostly were reserved for a plan to disband all standing committees of the board. Instead, directors will assign members to short-term ad hoc committees as needed.

The budget allocates $1.7 million to water costs, $1.9 for sewage and $3.7 million to administration/ governmental funds.

To keep costs under control, administration and fire offices now will be closed every Friday, and people calling on Mondays will reach the answering service.

General Manager Tammy Rudock assured board members she and her staff would return business calls within 24 to 48 hours. Water and sewer-service calls will be responded to immediately, and 911 calls for fire emergencies won’t be affected. E-mail will be answered quickly, she said.

The full budget is available online at

On the planned desalination

project, board President Greg Sanders met June 30, with Army Corps of Engineers leaders to nudge them toward authorizing an amended contract with the district. That contract would acknowledge the district’s previous expenditure of about $3 million on studies that are considered integral to the desal project, allowing the Corps to apply that credit toward the district’s local share of desal costs.

Sanders said Monday, June 28, that Corps members told him Cambria’s share of the so-called stimulus funds in Corps hands “is secure,” even though those American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were supposed to have been spent by June 30.

“Keeping desal going doesn't hinge on the ARRA funds,” Sanders wrote in July 2 e-mail interview. “There is enough money to get through the Corps’ geotechnical project and we have an appropriations request pending. Naturally, we want the ARRA funds because it helps advance the timetable; however, the project will continue with or without the ARRA funds.

“We are pulling out all the stops to get the Integral Determination Report approved as rapidly as possible so that we can start using our $3 million credit. We have every expectation that it will be approved by the Secretary of the Army. The question is whether it will be approved in time to use part of the credit against the local share that must be matched with the ARRA funds.”

District directors also received a report on vacant lots in town from Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. The conservancy used various criteria to rank every lot in town to find the best ones to save as open space. However, the report doesn’t recommend buying any specific parcels.