Local News

Wednesday, Jan 01 2014 06:00 AM

Bear Valley GM and finance director resign

Bear Valley Springs Community Services District's General Manager Jeff Hodge and Director of Finance Rudy Hernandez both filed their resignations on Dec. 20. They will serve their last day on Friday, Jan. 3.

Hodge and Hernandez are two of four BVCSD staff to resign in the last month, including former assistant general manager, Sandy Janzen, and the district's legal counsel, Kristin Hagan.

Hodge, who only started working for the district at the beginning of the year, said his resignation stems primarily from frustrations with the board of directors, whom he said, has continued to delay action on a number of different issues.

He added that those problems have been compounded by overreach and micromanaging from the board.

"There's specific statutes that says there will be a board to take care of policy and you will hire a manager," he said. "And that line is blurry and it's made it very difficult for me to work professionally, so I'm just removing myself from that situation."

He added, that despite the numerous board meetings -- many of which have exceeded more than four hours in length -- little has been accomplished to address issues such as the relationship between the Bear Valley Springs Association and the community services district.

Hodge said that all of the land in Bear Valley Springs is controlled by the CSD, some of which is leased to the homeowner's association.

"We spend five hours on little details that my staff takes care of," he said.

One point of contention among the board has regarded prevailing wage, and whether they need to be paid by the homeowner's association when work is contracted out.

"Where the debate has come, and remains unresolved, is when they do the same project to rehabilitate a piece of the building or add on to it, what should they be paying and when? It's legal counsel and it's my management counsel that it's no different if we were undertaking that job, because they're paying a dollar a year," he said.

Hodge said he will miss the hard-working staff.

"Great bunch of employees here," he said. "What they do to keep this system up and running is amazing and very applaudable. It takes a lot. It takes more than what you get on just hourly wage compensation. You have to have that true love and passion to keep it up and going," he said.

The Kern County Grand Jury released a five-page report on Thursday, May 22, 2013, taking the Bear Valley Community Service District governing board to task for issues including potential violations of the Brown Act, complaints of harassment by a board member and overcharging for police dispatch services.

According to multiple members of the district's management team, the District Attorney of Kern County has launched an investigation of its own into the board's activities.

The District Attorney's office has not returned calls requesting confirmation of such an investigation.

In response to Hodge's comments, President Bill Mason said he does not believe the board has stepped outside of its designated responsibilities.

"I think we had a bit of difficulty here with the staff not being able to take direction from the board," he said. "He thought the board wanted to run the district, but that's the board's job -- I'm sorry -- not the staff's."

According to Mason, Hodge was given a three-year contract, six months of which were deemed a probationary period. Mason said after reviewing Hodge's performance, the board decided to extend the period.

Mason added that the resignations of Hodge, Janzen and Hernandez were merely coincidental in their timing.

"One thing for sure is that the district is in good shape financially, compared to other government entities these days," he said. "When all is said and done, I think we'll be better off than we have been in the past."

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