SCV Water officials approved a plan Tuesday that changes the way board members are paid to attend meetings — identifying which meetings count and which ones don’t.
Although they’re still paid a $228.15 per diem for every meeting they attend, their amended policy now defines the meetings for which they’ll be compensated, unlike the outgoing policy, which made no such distinction.
Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who authored the assembly bill that created the SCV Water Agency, showed up at Tuesday’s meeting and voiced his support for the revisions made to the agency’s per diem policy.
“Tonight, the board is taking another step forward by willingly curtailing compensation to the Board of Directors,” Wilk said. “It declares to your ratepayers you are serious about transparency and accountability and I salute you for doing the right thing.”
The proposal approved unanimously by board members Tuesday limits the amount of money directors receive when attending events and meetings in an official capacity and also limits the amount of times each director can attend such events and be compensated for them.
The committee recommended directors get paid the same amount they received under the agency dissolved by SB 634 — the Castaic Lake Water Agency — of $228.15 per meeting.
The amended policy, however, reigns in how much money will be paid out to members who attend industry meetings by listing which meetings garner compensation, as well as the ones that don’t.
For example, board members will be compensated for attending multiday conferences, but they’re limited to attending three such conferences in a year. Under the old policy, no ceiling was placed on the number of multiday conferences a member could attend and still be compensated.
“It shows the public that we understand that it’s important to stay informed, but that we self-police and do the right thing,” the board’s vice-president, Maria Gutzeit, said.
Five members of the SCV Water board spent the last three months reviewing how much they should pay themselves and other board members for attending meetings on water-related issues.
They tried to find the right balance between the importance of attending conferences promising to educate them on important water issues and the cost of attending those conferences.
Director Robert DiPrimio was chair of the five-member ad hoc committee that reviewed the compensation and reimbursement paid out to board members for attending meetings.
The rate at which water board members are compensated stays the same.
If a member is on the board of four committees and they meet in the course of a month — in addition to the monthly general meeting — the amount that member is paid amounts to $1,140.75. There is a limit, however, on how many meetings a board member may attend for which they can receive that stipend, which is 10.
Members of the ad hoc committee reviewing the policy, however, defined and categorized what events that warrant per diem payments paid out for attending them.
The committee’s recommendation includes board members being additionally compensated for meals and lodging.
Under the amended policy board members are to reimbursed for the “reasonable cost of meals, including tips, not to exceed $150 per person per day.”
Wilk noted that the agency’s “projected savings have already exceeded its expectations,” at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Collectively, we spent several years working to create a new water agency,” Wilk said
“First with the ad hoc committee, then with the engagement with the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Newhall County Water District board of directors… And then, ultimately the new agency’s mission was honed and strengthened through the legislative process in our state capital.
“The shared vision would offer Santa Clarita Valley ratepayers a new water agency that would hold down costs by eliminating redundancies and protection for consumers in the future by establishing a ratepayer advocate, better stewards of the watershed by having a single entity manage the resource and create a new governing board that would be transparent and accountable.”