The challenger for the open seat in Division 2 of Calaveras County Water District said his main focus and contribution to the board would be his background in accounting.
Jorge Contreras, Mountain Ranch, threw his hat in the ring against incumbent Bob Dean and almost pulled it back out. However, Contreras said Monday that he plans to go for the spot and hopes to bring his financial expertise to the board.
“One of the things I intend to do as a director is to apply some principles of business management,” he said.
Contreras has had an inside view of CCWD’s financial machine. He worked for two years as an accounting technician with the district and was laid off as part of the recent downsizing.
He said one of the things he has observed is that the board doesn’t appear to be consistent in its vision for the district. He points out the recent decision to let former General Manager Dave Andres go.
“The board needs to agree on a vision and then hire someone who can clearly carry that vision out,” Contreras said.
He admits that he doesn’t really know that much about water issues, but said he makes up for that with his financial background.
Contreras earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Hayward, in 1992 and has worked for several public entities. He worked for the Santa Clara County and Calaveras County assessors’ offices and CCWD.
He said he has looked at the district’s financial statements for the past several years and noted a steady decline in cash reserves. He said that, in a matter of a couple of years, the district blew through millions of dollars.
Contreras said he also questions the rate increase and fee structure put in place by the district. He said when CCWD instituted flat fees for water and sewer that some areas saw huge increases and now the district has a five-year fee increase schedule that raises water rates incrementally.
“They say it’s only $4.50 a year, but by 2011 the rates will have increased from $22 a month to $39.50,” he said.