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$380K spent on advice

Consulting costs among top expenses for Water Agency.

Posted: March 22, 2008 12:47 a.m.
Updated: May 23, 2008 5:02 a.m.
The Castaic Lake Water Agency paid more for consultants in January than any other single expenditure outside of water received through the State Water Contract.

In all, the agency paid more than $380,000 to a handful of consultants in January, or more than $12,250 every day that month.

The breakdown of consulting costs was presented to the agency's Finance and Administration Committee this week as the agency's "large disbursements" for January.

The numbers show that checks were written that month for:

Kennedy/Jenks in the amount of $216,485; the law firm, McCormick, Kidman & Behrens, LLP for $73,426 including more than $43,000 in legal consulting; the Client First Consulting Group at $33,370; Glenn M.
Reiter & Associates at $30,357 and to the Anchor Consulting Group, LLC, represented locally by lobbyist Scott Wilk, at a cost of $27,000.

By contrast, the agency paid $3.8 million of ratepayers' money in January to the state as part of its contract for state-supplied water.

In all, the agency has budgeted to pay the state of California $22 million this year which works out to about $60,000 every day, all of it paid by ratepayers.

"You'll notice on your property tax bill a line for the Castaic Lake Water Agency - a rate of four cents for every $100 in assessed property value," explained Dan Masnada, the agency's general manager.
"This covers the operating expenditures of the state."

The operating expenditures of the agency are paid for through the sale of water to Santa Clarita Valley's four water retailers.

The property tax bill for those living in Santa Clarita is due April. 15.

The high cost of paying down the debt behind Southern California's water infrastructure was easily the largest cost for the agency in January at $3.83 million.

The agency's second largest single cost for the first month of the new year went to Kennedy/Jenks.
Third on the January list of large cash payouts at the agency was $193,500 paid to the Blois Construction company currently contracted to convey untreated groundwater from two wells in Saugus to the perchlorate treatment plant.

The agency incurred three other triple-digit expenses in January - $181,609 for a wireless system, $120,000 to Power Ford Valencia and $108,690 to keep the lights on, paid to Southern California Edison Co.

Last fiscal year, the agency reported a drop in property tax revenues.

A 2006/07 fund set aside for the State Water Contract saw its balance decrease by $0.72 million because of that drop in property tax revenue.

The agency, however, was still able to lower the tax rate and still have sufficient funds available, according to year end figures.


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