Friday, August 9, 2019

My Email to LAFCO that set Marinwood CSD's hair on fire

Dear Lafco Director, Jason Fried:

If Marinwood CSD is to regain financial stability and position itself for the future, it must have accountable business practices, open political process and address long term problems like pensions.

1.) The Marinwood CSD fire department must be merged or outsourced.

The Marinwood Fire department is in a JPA with San Rafael but PAYS for the privilage. Long term statistics show that roughly 70% of our calls are in the City of San Rafael. In addition 80-90% of all emergencies are medical calls.
Clearly our Firemen are needed in the city of San Rafael but only the Marinwood CSD pays their salaries and benefits. This is an unsustainable model. We pay MORE per household for fire service than residents in the City of San Rafael and we are subsidizing their fire service.

This is not fair for the residents of Marinwood CSD or the Safety personnel of Marinwood FD.

We cannot afford to indefinitely subsidize San Rafael and be expected to pay for their pensions too.

By merging the departments, San Rafael will benefit with the ability to deploy a larger trained fire service across a larger geography. There would have more resources available and the staff will have a greater career opportunities.

2.) The Marinwood CSD general manager needs to be replaced by a business manager with experienced in accounting and management of personnel working closely with the Recreation director.

3.) The Marinwood CSD recreation department is the best in Marin County and potentially a profitable business. It has overflow demand for its programs but seems never to make much money due to the mismanagement of financial resources. A business manager can address this.

4.) The parks departmenet can be merged and/or outsourced to the county or private contractors for a huge cost savings. Land Design has replaced much of the greenery maintenance but the Marinwood CSD staff was reduced modestly. Compared to Marin County parks workers, there is a very small amount of property being maintained. McInnis Park, for example has six workers for 450 acres and many park amenities. Marinwood Park is 14 acres of which half is unmanaged open space and has three workers. They only maintain 6 tennis courts, a pool and a rec center. It is not unusual to see all the parks staff leave by 2 pm everyday despite much deferred maintenance throughout the CSD.

5.) Marinwood CSD must engage in proper government contracting procedures and stop giving contracts to "insiders". Accounting must adhere to ethical business practices.

6.) Marinwood CSD has spent hundreds of thousands in legal fees on unnecessary lawsuits that could be invested back into the community. For example, they spent $100k to settle a $10k dispute with the Firefighters. The CSD is now embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with a 90 year old couple who actually wanted to settle amicably when CSD property destroyed their back yard. Such unnecessary legal adventures have cost the Marinwood CSD dearly.

The Marinwood CSD is potentially strong financially. Unethical business practices, abuse of the political process and inexperienced business management is the cause of its current financial woes. Corrective action today will ensure the long term financial stability of the district.

Editor's Note: This was presented to LAFCO's 8/8/2019 meeting.  Not surprisingly, Marinwood CSD manager Eric Dreikosen responded with several letters of his own.

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