The San Joaquin County Grand Jury has accused the Woodbridge Sanitary District of a litany of improprieties in its operations.
The small district, which provides sewer service to Woodbridge, has allegedly committed payroll fraud, fiscal mismanagement, falsified state water records, harassed employees, used nepotism and favoritism, failed to adequately train employees and lacked board polices and procedures, according to a grand jury report issued on Wednesday.
The sanitary district board has already corrected some of the issues that were cited, according to the grand jury report. They include approving the purchase of an employee time clock and developing job descriptions, credit card policies and a personnel manual.
Nevertheless, the grand jury didn’t mince its words.
“The poor management and board oversight does not merit the public’s trust,” the report reads. “The board is doing a disservice to constituents by the lack of policy and procedures, which limits transparency of policy and fiscal decisions.
“Board members are poorly informed or do not take seriously their policy and fiduciary responsibilities, prudent fiscal stewardship and accountability, planning responsibilities or oversight of effective management,” according to the report.
The grand jury maintains that it is vitally important for Woodbridge residents to become more involved in the sanitary board’s decisions.
Members of a grand jury committee attended several Woodbridge Sanitary District board meetings, interviewed all five elected board members, General Manager Luis Ching, employees, former employees, the State Water Resources Control Board compliance investigators and those who filed the original complaint to the grand jury.
Jurors said they reviewed more than 1,000 pages of documentation, including board agendas, minutes, time sheets, purchase orders, credit card statements, audit findings and State Water Resources Control Board regulations.
Board President Doug Colucci declined to comment on the report, deferring inquiries to attorney Mia Brown, who represents the district.
Brown said she can’t comment on the allegations at this time, but the district has already been working with the grand jury on some of its findings.
“It is what it is, unfortunately,” Brown said about the report.
Woodbridge resident Mary Avanti said she wasn’t surprised about the grand jury’s findings.
“I think they nailed it,” said Avanti, who attends sanitary board meetings on a regular basis. “I feel vindicated. We’re taking ratepayers’ money, and we’re throwing it away.”
The sanitary district board of directors is required to respond to the allegations in writing to the presiding Superior Court judge by Sept. 20.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.