As the current president of the Goleta Water District’s board of directors, Bill Rosen has accomplished a lot. But because his to-do list is far from being completely checked off, Rosen — who has been voted president by the board every year since 2008 — recently announced that he will seek another term.
“We started with a district that was somewhat in disarray and subject to a lot of criticism from the public,” Rosen said. “We instituted polices that opened up the board to a more transparent process. We’ve gone through a whole list of things.”
In addition to the recently updated, emergency-focused Urban Water Management Plan, Rosen’s time on the board has seen the starting of the district’s Water Supply Plan — which, according to Rosen, shows “which water to use most effectively based upon its cost and availability” — and the Sustainability Plan, an effort by the district to, as Rosen said, “operate with an eye toward greenness.”
Rosen, a former New York lawyer, said that what he is especially proud of have been his efforts to make the district more public-friendly. He called for posting meeting agendas and minutes on the district’s website, saying that doing so is “a way of giving the public more information that makes operations more transparent.” In the future, Rosen said, he would like to see the “full implementation of online bill-paying” — he likened the service to that of banks — and the increased ability of customers to access their own records, both steps Rosen believes could help the district better communicate with ratepayers.
Although he acknowledged the bitter taste left in the public’s mouth by last year’s water-rate hikes — “a lot of people may not favor them,” he said — he maintained that those increases were important. “They were necessary to ensure that the district could continue effectively and provide the services that the public both needs and demands,” he said.
Rosen went further in his — and the board’s — support of the ratepayers. “The public gets a fair accounting of the district’s services and actions,” he said. “We’re working in their interests.”
While serving for the district on the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA) — which has representation for many cities in the area — Rosen said that he has done his part for Goleta residents to get them what he believes to be their fair share of the local water. The CCWA allocates votes to the various cities depending on those cities’ amount of water. But Rosen said that the system is skewed for Santa Maria, which holds about 40 percent of the water but which he said receives about 75 percent of the voting power. Goleta, Rosen said, has more than 17 percent of the water, but only receives about five percent of the voting power. He believes that percentage should equal votes, likening the skew to giving a mayor more votes than his or her fellow city council members.
Rosen, who is supported by Goleta mayor Ed Easton and councilmembers Roger Aceves, Michael Bennett, and Paula Perotte, also talked about the board’s plans for working out contracts with the district’s unionized employees and building its emergency reserves.
“The past four years have been a very productive time for the district and my administration,” Rosen said. “I think that I’ve been fair and effective to other members of the board. They’ve shown a lot of confidence in my performance.”