New water agency cuts number of lobbyists by half

In a cost-cutting move to eliminate redundancy, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency on Tuesday cut the number of lobbyists it retains by half. Board members of the SCV Water Agency met Tuesday in the latest effort to build the new agency according to the edicts of Senate Bill 634, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October. Two former local water agencies, SCV water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, and one of SCV’s three water retailers, the Newhall County Water District, merged with the formation of SCV Water Agency on Jan. 1, each of them bringing their contracted lobbyists in tow. The CLWA contracted with two lobbying firms – one state, one federal. So did NCWD. On Tuesday, 14 of the 15 SCV Water Agency board members voted in favor of dropping two of the four, siding with lobbyists contracted by the CLWA. Both the former CLWA and the NCWD held several contracts to engage in legislative activities on the state and federal level. The former CLWA hired Anchor Consulting, LLC, to represent the agency’s interests at the federal level in Washington.  To represent its interests at the state level, it contracted with California Advocates, Inc., in Sacramento. The board decided to maintain a relationship with both lobbying firms. The former NCWD  had its own lobbyists – Townsend Public Affairs, Inc., representing its interests at both the state and federal level and Reeb Government Relations, LLC, at strictly the state level. Board members voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Reeb’s contract to expire and to give Townsend a 30-day notice to cancel. They also agreed to create a committee that would review the agency’s state and federal legislative representation. In making their decision, members were given a chance to reflect on how much each lobbyist would cost. The NCWD had paid Reeb Government Relations $1,500 a month and paid Townsend Public Affairs, Inc., $5,000 a month, for a total lobbying cost of $6,500 a month. The board went with lobbyists that cost more than twice that amount. The former CLWA paid Anchor $9,000 a month and California Advocates $8,000 a month, for a total lobbying cost of $17,000 Former NCWD General Manager Steve Cole who now serves as SCV Water Agency’s Assistant General Manager noted in his memo to board members: “The creation of SCV Water provides the opportunity to save costs by avoiding a duplication of these efforts.” “There is an overlap in representation at both the state and federal level,” he said in his memo. “The staff has reviewed each of the contracts terms and has come to the following conclusions to immediately begin realizing savings without a negative impact to legislative representation. 661-287-5527 On Twitter @jamesarthurholt