Here is the scholarship paper that my daughter drafted that was later thrown in the trash can by Phil Cotton.(2nd hand knowledge)
Today in California there are approximately 3,400 special districts. Each has a separate identity for their own specific interest. Each special district provides a variety of services from water distribution to fire protection. A board of directors governs each district. A special district can be defined as, “any agency of the state for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries.”
I believe the biggest benefit of special districts are the ability to serve specific needs of a community that might not be the needs of an adjacent community or a special district can fulfill the needs of several communities which might form to become one special district. The case in point is the San Dieguito Water District, which serves potable and recycled water to approximately 37,000 residents in Encinitas, Leucadia, and Cardiff by the Sea. These are three very different communities with the same need for a safe, reliable water supply for domestic, agriculture and industrial purposes.
There are two different types of special districts; dependent or independent. A dependent district is one in which either a city council or county board of supervisors directly controls the district. An independent special district is one in which the governing body is either directly elected by the voters or appointed for a fixed term of service, often by a board of supervisors. The San Dieguito Water District would be considered a dependent special district. Currently the board of directors for the San Dieguito Water District are members of the city council. Christy Guerin is the President and James Bond is the Vice-President.
For example, the San Dieguito Water district was independent before the incorporation with the City of Encinitas in 1986. Now that it is dependent, the City is the water board and ultimately the city council is the governing board that is suppose to look out for the best interest of the San Dieguito Water District and the customers they serve. The San Dieguito Water district was located on a property overlooking a 180 degree ocean view at 59 East D Street in Encinitas. This property was identified by the city as a location for a future library.
This property was sold below market value back to the city to accommodate a city library, when in fact this property could have been sold at a higher value and the income put directly into the coffers of the water district for future considerations, in turn keeping the cost of water down, maintaining a system, purchasing equipment and so on.
The original concept of incorporation seems in theory a positive step until you look deeper into the fact the interest is not in the water district, but in the construction of a library. Politics of building a mulit-million dollar library have taken precedence over the maintenance and delivery of safe drinking water. Currently the Water District now shares a property in Encinitas with the City of Encinitas street department. The two entities are now being combined to form part of a public works department, which operate out of one other satellite yard, which is, located next the human society on Requeza Avenue in Encinitas. The yard has been in a state of flux due to a long list of reasons not to construct a permanent yard that does not conflict with other city projects.
The San Dieguito Water District is reliant on not only its own budget but influenced by the budget constraints and citywide issues relating to City of Encinitas. The San Dieguito Water District is a non-profit organization, which receives revenue through the delivery of potable water. The City of Encinitas is reliant on sales tax, permitting fees and other related financing separate from the water district. Funds earmarked for the San Dieguito Water District projects ultimately have to be weighed in with the city council, which may or may not be in the best interest of the water district but may be in the best interest of the City of Encinitas. I have found there are times when there is a conflict of interest between the City of Encinitas and San Dieguito Water District, a difference created because SDWD is no longer an independent district. Prior to incorporation, the San Dieguito Water District was independent, and had its own budget concerns, which dealt with water related issues specifically.
Recently, the city council that governs the San Dieguito Water District had a priority session for all city projects. At this meeting it was decided in the order of importance that construction, renovation and expansion of the fire department was the first priority. Borrowing money from other city projects to begin the construction of a library, which has come in over budget, due to the rising cost of building materials, was the second priority and the construction of a public works yard, was third. Even though the San Dieguito Water District is renting space on a vacant schoolyard, which is due to expire this summer, they have no dedicated property that has been identified specific to the needs of the San Dieguito Water District, and the City of Encinitas Street Maintenance Division.
My conclusion is that the methodology of an independent district is run more efficiently with the best interest of their customers because of the dynamics and sometimes politics between dependent versus independent districts.
Blogger's note: By comparing the costs of the Cardiff Sanitation District, run by the city, and the LWD, which is independent of the city we can see that being run by the City Council does not guarantee cheaper rates.