West Valley Water District Board takes steps toward transparency, accountability

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During the first-ever live-streamed meeting of the West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors, the group took several steps towards meeting transparency and accountability standards recognized by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF).

Board President Channing Hawkins stated, “The Board of Directors is moving in a new direction towards earning the public trust of our customers and community stakeholders.” President Hawkins added, “Our Board will continue taking action towards attaining the Transparency Certificate of Excellence. Our commitment as an organization is to earn the trust of our customers and continue providing safe, high quality, and reliable water.”

“Tonight we began demonstrating to our ratepayers and public that we will operate in a sound, responsible manner, with the ratepayer’s best interests in mind,” said Vice President Kyle Crowther. “We are going to move forward together as an organization in restoring integrity, accountability, and transparency. This is my commitment to our community.”

Recognizing the need to make serious changes to provide transparency and accountability for ratepayers, the WVWD outlined steps to increase accountability and transparency for ratepayers. These steps include:

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• applying for a Transparency Certificate of Excellence Award. The certificate covers all general, website and outreach best practices and requirements regarding transparency for special districts. The certificate is administered by the SDLF, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides recognition and certifications to special districts and officials to enhance services to the public;

• live-streaming the meeting for customers and community stakeholders. New meetings and workshops will now be live-streamed for the public on the WVWD website and Facebook page;

• producing digital copies of Board of Directors meetings for the public in compliance with the California Public Records Act;

• publishing a master calendar for scheduled meetings of the Board of Directors and Committees;

• reviewing human resources policies. The agency will be conducting a hiring freeze while actions are taken to ensure policies are fair, transparent, and consistent.

The Board of Directors also directed that additional limitations be placed on the General Manager. Additional limitations of the General Manager include prohibiting any contracts being executed without prior review and approval of the Board President.

Furthermore, on January 9, 2020, a special meeting of the Board of Directors will be conducted to review all professional services contracts within West Valley Water District. The review has been directed by the Board of Directors to ensure accountability for the ratepayers of the District.

The District will provide all required resources, to include: fiscal, personnel, and management oversight, in the pursuit and completion of the accreditation. WVWD leadership will place an emphasis on continuing education completed by having each of the district’s board members and executive staff trained in ethics, governance and leadership as required by the accreditation.

Additional requirements by the Special District Leadership Fund include current ethics training for all board members, compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act, adoption of policy related to handling public records act requests, and financial policies among others.

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