With no one serving, rural district might dissolve

Pacheco Pass Water District

A financially troubled San Benito County water district might dissolve because no one is willing to serve on the elected board.
The Pacheco Pass Water District, in existence since 1931, is both tiny and enormous at the same time. It covers 5,467 acres, about three-quarters of it in northern San Benito County but partly in Santa Clara County as well. The district serves fewer than 900 people.
On the heels of financial troubles and non-compliant financial reporting over the past dozen or so years, the Pacheco Pass Water District is on the verge of dissolving.
The district has failed to file required audit reports—mandated every five years—since the 2003-04 fiscal year, according to planning documents. It has been unable to cover annual operating costs in recent years and faces depleting reserves. For context on its budget—from the most recent fiscal year with reports available—the district generated revenue of about $25,000, according to Local Agency Formation Commission of Santa Clara County documents from 2011.
The Pacheco Pass Water District serves a population of 863, according to those planning documents, and it had three (of five possible) active board directors whose four-year terms expired in late 2012. The other two seats had been vacant at that time. It is managed by a part-time secretary and staffs two part-time water masters who submit their hours once annually.
Other agencies, such as LAFCO in San Benito County and the San Benito County Water District, are discussing how to move forward and whether to take on the Pacheco district’s customers.
Jeff Cattaneo, manager of the San Benito County Water District, said his agency may well work with the Santa Clara Valley Water District in taking over the existing Pacheco Pass district customers and obligations. Another option is that the Pacheco district be turned over to the county board.
“We’re trying to figure out all the liabilities,” he said.
The San Benito County Water District’s board has discussed options in recent months after realizing there was no one willing to serve on the Pacheco district board.
“They are lacking any governance,” he said. “There are no directors anymore for that water district. They can’t continue to function without governance.”
District dissolution is “not common but not horribly rare,” he said.
Cattaneo explained the Pacheco district boundaries stretch from an area near Los Viboras Road out toward Comstock Road and then out toward Fairview north to State Route 156 toward Casa de Fruta.
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