Lara, Garcia Team Up on Central Basin Accountability Legislation

August 08, 2016

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) announced today the Central Basin Accountability Package to enact reforms within the embattled Water District. The two legislators will consolidate their two legislative proposals, Senate Bill 953 (Lara) and Assembly Bill 1794 (Garcia) to realize their shared vision to protect taxpayers. Both legislators will be co- authors on the package.

“Central Basin ratepayers deserve accountability and transparency from their leaders,” said Senator Lara. “Throughout the year we have addressed the issues that have distracted the District from focusing on its mission and service. Today, I am proud to join Assemblymember Garcia in advancing our package to enact much needed reforms designed to restore trust among the community and move the District forward.

Senate Bill 953 will keep the contracting provisions allowing the Central Basin Water District to sole source contract in limited emergency circumstances and only with prior written justification. In addition, the senate bill will improve transparency by requiring the general manager to submit a quarterly report to the Board detailing the District’s contract agreements.

“In order to increase accountability and transparency a new governance structure and permanent changes in how contracts are awarded  are needed for real long-term reform,” Garcia said. “The strategies that are implemented in this package reflect the input from working groups with the 41 purveyors led by an independent facilitator and addresses a number of the state auditor’s findings” she continued. “The Central Basin Accountability Package will protect consumers by making sure the Central Basin Municipal Water District gets back on track once and for all,” Garcia concluded.

Assembly Bill 1974 will largely focus on governance, in line with the state auditors recommendations, which includes establishing an 8-member board (4 elected & 3 appointed purveyors) and will wait until after the 2020 census to do the redistricting process. After 2022 the board will be comprised of 7 members. Adding 3 purveyors to the board with water expertise will help to insure better governance.

SB953 is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and AB1974 is in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Both bills are candidates for the Suspense File and should be heard in each respective house on Thursday, August 11.