Debate over water systems and who should be running what are raging in Shoreline these days.
As the city of Shoreline and Shoreline City Council try to get Proposition 1, the Seattle Public Utilities water system acquisition ballot measure, passed by voters in November, critics claim that there are better alternatives.
Despite a mantra of local control if the city acquires the SPU system, some residents prefer the local control of the Shoreline Water District and want that local government to take over the SPU system rather than the city of Shoreline.
At a Sept. 5 public hearing at Shoreline Water District offices, about 40 people showed up and more than 20 spoke. About twice as many people who spoke were opposed to the city's acquisition of SPU's system, than were for it, and several people who were for it were current Councilmembers.
The Shoreline Water District Board met this past Monday night, Sept. 10, to further discuss the SPU acquistion issue and what stance it should take. The district's options were to support Proposition 1, take no position on it, or oppose Proposition 1. The District's attorney Andrew Maron, who has represented it for 20 years, laid out reasons for doing any three of the above.
The Water District Board will announce a decision on its position or refusal to take a position at its Sept. 17 meeting at 7 p.m.
Several people said they want local control but would prefer the Shoreline Water District, which handles water service for homes east of I-5 and a section of Lake Forest Park to be the district in charge.
Back in December, Shoreline Water District manager Diane Pottinger sent a letter (see attached PDF) to Shoreline City Manager Julie Underwood proposing that the Shoreline Water District and Ronald Wastewater District merge and enter in a long-term interlocal governance and operating agreement.
Underwood's response (see attached PDF) on behalf of the City Council was that while efficiencies would be gained under a consolidation, the city was best suited to do that. She offered up the third floor of City Hall, now largely vacant, as a place to house the Shoreline Water District and Ronald Wastewater District offices, touting having all the services under one roof.
Meanwhile, the Shoreline Water District was cited by the State Auditor's Office back in May.
The Auditor found the District’s "internal controls over financial statement preparation are inadequate to ensure accurate reporting.” This wasn't the first time the auditor had noted these issues.
“We noted control deficiencies over financial reporting to management in prior audits,” according to the audit.
Pottinger said that concern has been addressed with by adding a third party peer review.
"We are a small district and have two people in the finance department, both of whom prepare and monitor the finances. The auditor suggested a third financial person review the financial statements. The District does not believe this adding staff (was needed, sic) but we have worked with other special purpose districts to provide a third party peer review," Pottinger said in an e-mail.
Errors included the statement of net assets, depreciation, cash flow, and notes to the financial statements, Washingtonstatewire.com reported.
"The financial statements were materially correct with the intangible assets listed on the financial statements but not in the corresponding footnotes," Pottinger said. "The auditor also suggested reviewing our depreciation schedule and suggested purchasing a software program. We have purchased the program and reconciled the assets. We are awaiting our 2011 audit at this time. We feel confident that all issues have been resolved."
Ronald Wastewater District per a 2002 agreement with the Shoreline City Council is supposed to be assumed by the city in 2017, but the Ronald Board has said that decision should be made by a vote of the people and believes that contract is not necessarily binding.