[Updated Jan. 21] The president of the Rancho Murieta Association appeared at the Community Services District board meeting Wednesday night to protest remarks made by a CSD director the night before at the RMA meeting, but he ended up agreeing that the RMA owes the parks fund money. The board also addressed a resident's problems with vandalism.
RMA President Jack Cooper said Director Dick Taylor accused the RMA of a crime when he said the association misappropriated $88,000 in parks funds without a proper vote of the Parks Committee or the RMA board. The money was used to repay RMA legal expenses for the construction of the pedestrian bridge.
Calling the matter "a disagreement about legal bills," Cooper told the board, "Disagreeing is one thing. Accusation and accusing someone of a crime is another, especially when it comes from a publicly elected official. ... I can't believe that this body would send one of its members over there to accuse us of that or to deliver that kind of sermon."
"I can't believe that this body would send one of its members over there to accuse us of that or to deliver that kind of sermon," RMA President Jack Cooper told the CSD board.
Taylor responded that he was using a dictionary definition of misappropriated to mean "bad or unfair. It's got nothing to do with misdemeanors or felonies. ... I'm accusing you of doing something bad or unfair. ... I went into the details of what I saw as the money transfer and referenced to the fact that it appeared that that money transfer took place in the absence of any action by the RMA board and certainly in the absence of any discussion or approval by the Parks Committee." (His comments can be read here.)
Director Bobbi Belton confirmed that Taylor was representing the board. She located the minutes from the December board meeting on her computer and read, "'Director Taylor wishes to reconfirm the consensus of the district's board that the funds of the Parks Committee are subject to use only upon the vote and instructions of the voting members of the Parks Committee.' I think that's it in a nutshell," she concluded.
"There's a big stretch between that and misappropriation of funds," Cooper responded.
CSD President Wayne Kuntz suggested holding a meeting "with both RMA and the Parks Committee and let's try to get this settled, OK?"
But Taylor, who has repeatedly tried to work through the Parks Committee, pointed out the two RMA representatives on the committee need direction from their board before they can act and "their board chooses not to address it."
Cooper then suggested the RMA board might give its representatives authority to negotiate. Taylor asked if this was an acknowledgement that the RMA had "misused procedure."
Cooper replied, "I think there is money owed by RMA which should go back to the parks fund."
"Why don't you say that at your board meeting?" Taylor demanded.
"I did. I even named a number," Cooper replied.
"Not at your board meeting," Taylor insisted. "Your board has denied to acknowledge it. You have agreed, Paul has agreed, others on your board have agreed. And once the group of you took it to your executive session, it was declined."
After this story appeared, Cooper said he misheard Taylor. Cooper said he thought Taylor was referring to a Parks Committee meeting and not an RMA board meeting.
At this point, after about 20 minutes of dialogue, General Manager Ed Crouse closed the exchange down, saying he'd been advised by CSD counsel that the matter should be placed on the agenda for a future meeting because the discussion had exceeded the scope of comments from the public.
Resident asks help with vandalism problem
A North resident brought vandalism problems in the area of Cazador and Rio Oso drives to the board's attention.
"It's begun to get fairly serious," Robin Witt said. "They've taken out lights -- ripped them out maliciously. ... They have ripped limbs off of trees. I know that this is a perennial problem out here, but I wonder if there's anything that can be done about it and where this community is in countering vandalism."
"We're assuming it's juveniles. ... When we get complaints we focus in that area and see what we can do and that's what we're doing now," said Security Chief Greg Remson. "We're bringing some sheriff's help out this way, and those are one of the issues we're trying to address."
"I can't imagine that the Sheriff's Department is going to care very much about vandalism in Rancho Murieta," Witt said.
"Well, yes and no," Remson replied. "Once we get them out here, that's part of a community issue."
Belton suggested Witt file reports about incidents of vandalism with the Sheriff's Department by contacting the James L. Noller Safety Center. The center is staffed by Volunteers In Partnership with the Sheriff Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The phone numbers for the center are 354-8509 and 354-8511.
Taylor asked Witt to encourage neighbors who have also experienced vandalism to contact the sheriff's department. "What we're talking about is having some way to get information to the Sheriff's Department that these things are happening and that we need more of their presence here in the community," he said.
Later in the meeting, Taylor suggested getting the Sheriff's Department more involved in the community's vandalism and marijuana incidents by having CSD patrol officers call in the sheriff's department and wait with suspects until deputies arrive. The CSD Security Committee will consider the suggestion, Crouse said.
Director misses meeting due to health issues
Director Jerry Pasek was not present at the board meeting. General Manager Ed Crouse said Pasek suffered a heart attack earlier in the week and was recovering at home after receiving medical treatment.
$23,000 contract for sewer plan
The board approved a $23,289 contract with HDR Engineering Inc. to complete the initial requirements of a sewer system management plan for managing and maintaining the collection system on a long-term basis. The district is required to have a general permit for wastewater collection systems, and the management plan is within the scope of the permit.
The objective of the permit is to reduce collection system overflows caused by lack of proper operation and maintenance. The board decided funding will come from the sewer operating budget after Directors Belton and Taylor objected to using sewer reserve funds. "I'm tired of nickel and diming the reserves," Belton said.
Board OKs 10-hour days for Water Department
The board approved changing the work schedule of the Water Department operations staff from a workweek of five eight-hour days to four 10-hour days.
The benefits of this schedule became apparent when water operations staff managed a temporary irrigation project last year, Crouse said. In addition to reducing overtime, he said, the schedule allows after-hours coverage for problems residents don't find until they return home from work.