Politics & Government

Los Osos CSD general manager placed on paid administrative leave

Kathy Kivley
Kathy Kivley

The general manager of the Los Osos Community Services District has been placed on paid administrative leave effective 5 p.m. last Friday, according to district lawyer Mike Seitz.

The district’s board made the decision in closed session at its regular meeting on Thursday. General manager Kathy Kivley left the meeting after a brief discussion with Seitz following the closed-session discussion.

No reasons for the decision have been given.

Kivley, who was hired in 2013, earns an annual salary of $99,000 per year. She received a $9,000 raise at the end of last year, the highest amount she could have been given after one year of service.

Seitz and board president Mike Wright cited personnel confidentiality as the reason they couldn’t discuss the details of the closed meeting. The agenda item was titled “public employee performance evaluation — district general manager.”

“Her administrative leave is open-ended at this point,” Seitz said. “The board has decisions that it has to make (about how to proceed with Kivley’s employment status).”

Kivley has faced scrutiny in recent weeks for her role in the district’s accounting.

An independent audit expressed several concerns, including that Kivley made changes to the general ledger, which made the accounting difficult to trace. The audit recommended that the district’s accountant — not the general manager — make revisions in the ledger.

Her administrative leave is open-ended at this point. The board has decisions that it has to make (about how to proceed with Kivley’s employment status).

Mike Seitz, Los Osos CSD attorney

Kivley previously told The Tribune that her accounting changes, cited in the audit, were due to mistakes made in previous entries by past employees that had to be reversed or reclassified.

County Auditor-Controller James Erb, whose authority includes monitoring county special district audit reports, sent an Oct. 7 letter to the Los Osos board calling the audit’s findings “of great concern.”

Erb sought more detail about how the district will implement corrective accounting practices, to which Kivley responded as part of a report made public last month.

On Oct. 12, the board also hired private investigator Jim Gardiner, a former San Luis Obispo police chief, to look into whether Kivley took unpermitted time off and used her work computer for personal activities. No announcement on the results of Gardiner’s investigation has been made.

The district also has been plagued by contentiousness. In public comment at district meetings, a small but vocal group has repeatedly criticized Kivley for her work and accused her of a lack of transparency.

It’s unclear what specifically led to the board’s action to place her on leave, however.

Kivley didn’t respond to an email request from The Tribune for comment on Monday.

Wright has defended Kivley’s role in the accounting, saying corrections have been made to ensure future accuracy and that Kivley and the staff were asked by the board to review several years of district finances, which complicated matters.

“As a result of the workload required, the accountant requested that the GM input the journal entries into the financial accounting software,” Kivley said in a previous email to The Tribune. “The accountant reviewed all the journal entries prior to being posted to the (ledger) and oversaw the posting of the entries.”

Wright said the district’s board will hold a special closed meeting on Thursday at the district’s office at 5 p.m. to further discuss Kivley’s status.

Seitz said that the agenda item is likely to be titled “potential litigation,” but won’t specifically refer to Kivley or the general manager.