Working from a list of 29 possibilities, the Community Services District’s directors last week discussed their goals for the new year in a wide-ranging conversation that focused on Security a good deal of the time.
The directors' prioritized goals were placed on a spreadsheet (which you can see here). Director Tim Maybee’s views were reflected in the spreadsheet, but he wasn’t present for the Jan. 21 session.
The goals that were most frequently ranked near the top were Security services and the water-right update faced by the CSD. Given that water rights were discussed at length at the last board meeting, it had a smaller presence at the goals meeting. Security, on the other hand, was discussed for a solid half-hour and turned up occasionally through the rest of the 2½-hour session.
In response to the notion of deploying security cameras, a priority for years, General Manager Mark Martin said Security’s operational budget is “barely scraping by,” so the only way to fund cameras would be through security impact fees, which are paid as part of development. But that fund is $10,000 in the red after the district spent about $50,000 on a much-maligned security study in 2016.
Anticipating development just around the bend, Martin said the CSD would have to await the construction of Murieta Gardens across from Murieta Village, 78 homes that would generate $56,000 in security impact fees when they’re built.
What would that buy for Security? Martin said one portable camera trailer that could be deployed as needed around the community costs about $35,000. “Even with all those homes constructed, that’s about what we could purchase with that,” he said.
Director Randy Jenco said he believes the community views the Security department “pretty negatively” and said recent traffic enforcement for “rolling through stop signs” didn’t help. He suggested that Security Chief Jeff Werblun get out in the community more.
Werblun responded by saying he got a standing ovation when he was introduced at a recent Kiwanis Club meeting. “Because the community appreciates what we do, and how we do it, within the constraints that we can,” he said. Werblun said the community’s view of Security has been improving for the last eight or 10 months. He has been chief for a year, and he says he has seen a decline in phone complaints about the department’s service.
Jenco said he was happy to hear that, and he cautioned Werblun that Kiwanis members are more interested in the community than the average Murietan. “Somehow that message has to get out to the rank and file who aren’t as involved in the community and aren’t as in touch,” he said.
In response to Director John Merchant’s musings about how to raise Security funds given legal limits on increases in that tax, Martin suggested an answer might be to ask the Rancho Murieta Association and commercial interests in the community to bear the cost if they want higher levels of service. “...If RMA had some special patrols they wanted to do, they could actually look to hire private security to conduct those patrols,” he said. He said the Murieta Equestrian Center, where there have been concerns, is another example. “We will not be able to provide a full-time Security person to watch the Equestrian Center under our rates,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.” The coming commercial area could be another example, he said.
Expanding the CSD Security staff through a tax increase is the alternative, he said.
Among the other goals discussed:
RMA-CSD responsibilities: CSD wants to clearly differentiate its roles and responsibilities from the RMA’s and to communicate those facts, Martin said. CSD has been working to that end since its Pipeline publication last September explained Security’s roles in plain language. The process continued at the Security town hall in October, and the results of that meeting will be employed at a Joint Security Committee meeting next month, Martin said. “People are confused, and rightfully so,” he said.
Aging infrastructure management: Merchant endorsed producing an audit to begin managing infrastructure, but said it needs a solid completion date or it could run on for years. “It’s not a ‘next month’ or ‘six months’ (project); it’s going to take a while,” Martin said. He said the CSD staff is starting to develop a list of these assets, and the district is working to get its utilities into a base digital map as the foundation for a full view of its infrastructure. “That would be a big win, to get that accomplished this year,” he said.
Water conservation update: Merchant encouraged the board to determine whether expanding water storage would help the district’s effort to renew its water right application next year. He also encouraged the district to produce an emergency plan for water in a catastrophic situation.
CSD financial situation: Merchant said he wants new financial reporting tools to assess the CSD’s longterm financial health, assessing capital, reserve status and long-term liabilities like personnel and retirement.
Stormwater and drainage services: Martin said the district’s budgets never reflected a concern for esthetics with water storage facilities like Laguna Joaquin and Basin 5 (Lost Lake). Paul Siebensohn, director of field operations, said the district adopted a stormwater, storm drainage and flood control master plan in 1988, and nowhere does it assign the CSD responsibility for something like midge flies in Laguna Joaquin. Added Martin, “We just have to be very cautious, given our limited budget, of just immediately jumping in to fund items that are esthetic-related, because that was never envisioned, and we do get caught in that quite a bit.”