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District spent almost $10,000 a day on consultants

• Advice No. 2 cost for water agency

Posted: May 28, 2008 1:19 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2008 5:02 a.m.

The only thing that cost the Castaic Lake Water Agency more money in March than water itself was consultants.

In a cost sheet submitted by the agency's Finance and Administration Committee for the agency's Board of Directors meeting tonight, consulting firms represent about a third of March expenses labelled "Large Disbursements from 3/1/2008 to 3/31/2008."

Water purchased in March from the Department of Water Resources totalled more than $1.03 million.

The single largest expenditure (after water) was paid to the Harris & Associates consulting firm in the amount of $293,526 - almost $10,000 a day.

Kennedy/Jenks Consulting was paid close to $114,000 for consulting, engineering consulting and providing temporary personnel services.

Lawyers received $109,511.

The board is expected to formally acknowledge the cost breakdown, specifically called the March 2008 Finance and Expenditure Report.

But, not without some reservations voiced by board members.

On April 24, at a Planning and Engineering Committee meeting, Dean D. Efstathiou expressed his concern over the amount of money paid for the consultants hired to reduce the amount of chloride entering the water system.

"We are building an engineering department and bringing people in to do routine work," he told the committee." The routine work from Kennedy/Jenks should be getting less not more."

Efstathiou was referring to a recommendation to increase payment to Kennedy/Jenks by $100,000 from $150,000 to $250,000 for "miscellaneous engineering tasks related to capital improvements."

"A $150,000 (commitment) should not be $250,000. We have got to monitor that closely."

"To be honest," Efstathiou said. "I would like to keep hard work within the agency ... I would like to see how we're doing day to day.

"Routine work done within the agency - that's the goal," he added.

Efstathiou, who represents the Los Angeles County Waterworks District #36, one of the agency's four water retailers, was voicing concern over Kennedy/Jenks increasing their bill at the last minute.

"Kennedy/Jenks could have given us a heads-up in January," he explained to the planning committee.

In June, the agency's Board of Directors authorized $150,000 to be paid to Kennedy/Jenks for general engineering services which includes the agency's handling of chloride that ends up in the Santa Clara River.

On April 24, the planning committee - including Efstathiou - endorsed the recommendation that Kennedy/Jenks receive a 67 percent pay raise.

Other "large disbursements" listed on tonight's cost sheet are $197,937 to Siemens Water Technologies, $183,964 to Layfield Environmental Systems Corporation and $130,579 to the Southern California Edison Company.

The board meets tonight at 6:15 p.m. with no time slotted for closed door session. It takes place at the Rio Vista Water Treatment Plant on Bouquet Canyon Road overlooking Central Park.


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