ROSAMOND – Petitions have been circulating in Rosamond to recall four of the five directors on the Rosamond Community Services District board.
On the possible chopping block were RCSD President Greg Wood, and directors Kathy Spoor, Rick Webb and Bryon Glennan. Director Alfred Wallis, who was just elected last November, was not named in the recall.
The petitions charge the board with ineffective leadership, failure to cut costs and reduce water and sewer rates, and failure to properly inform and serve ratepayers.
Anger over dealings by the board seemed to be the sentiment by some of the petitioners, said one of the leaders of the petition, Robert Vincelette. He said he thought chances of getting the necessary signatures to have the recall election were good.
Petitioners have until Nov. 21, 2013 to collect the 1,723 signatures, or 25% of the registered voters within the district - required to conduct a recall election. If that is accomplished, Kern County elections must verify the signatures. If Kern County gives the OK, then a recall election must then be held within 88 to 125 days.
There is no judge or other authority needs to act on the validity of any charges. It only takes one person to propose a petition and get signatures. New candidates would be placed on the ballot as well as the recall issue. If the recall vote is “Yes,” the directors are dismissed and the candidates with the most votes would be installed. If the vote is “No,” the current board would be retained and the other votes for alternate candidates would be destroyed.
The RCSD district must cover the cost of this recall election, a cost of around $35,000, which would be taken out of the budget and could eventually effect rate payers.
Should all paperwork go through, the election probably would be held around May 2014. President Wood said that doesn't make sense to him.
“If you don't like who is on the board, vote them out,” he said. “This would just cost the public $35,000 for new members, who would be only in for a few months before the next election.”
One of the key issues of the petition was the raise in water rates. Rosamond's rates of about $35 a month for 11,000 gallons of water is about the middle of other what other local water districts charge. They were established about four years ago, and public hearings were held to discuss the rates. Those meetings had a number of interested parties from the community before the new rates finally were passed.
“If that's a main complaint, neither myself or Rick Webb were on the board at that time,” Wood said.
The petition also states that the district offices are closed on Fridays. That was done as a cost cutting measure. The board also cut the number of staff from around 40 a few years ago, to less than 20 today.
Most meetings have just a handful of residents in the audience and rumors always seem to fly around the community on what is being done – good or bad.
"I think it is unfortunate that many people circulating recall petitions have never been to our meetings or rarely show up,” said director Spoor. “They don't really have an understanding of what we're doing.”
Another bone of contention by voters was the proposed assessment fee for lighting. Some felt they were being bullied into accepting the fee or the street lights would be turned off. General Manager Steve Perez said at the time it wasn't a threat, just information from Southern California Edison, which owns the lights, what would happen if voters said “No” to the fee.
The issue eventually was tabled until next year to gather more information.
“We've had a balanced budget for the last three years,” Wood said. “We have taken on no new debt, and decreased our debt by $2 million. We are one of the few districts that has a water bank to collect water for dry years, and we have a new waste water treatment plant coming on-line soon. That recycled water can be used for landscaping, and be purchased by outside users. That will save potable water for developers. I feel we have been good stewards of the funds for our rate payers.”
Probably the most famous recall election in California history took place in October 2003, when Governor Gray Davis was recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger took his place.