The San Mateo County Harbor District will face a major review of its operations and accounting practices that could lead to its eventual dissolution.
The county commission governing special districts voted 6-1 Wednesday to hire an outside agency to conduct a “municipal service review” despite pleas from many on the coast and Sabrina Brennan, the president of the Harbor District Board of Commissioners, to delay it.
The delay was sought because the district has two new board members and is searching for a new general manager, Brennan said at Wednesday’s Local Agency Formation Commission.
Brennan requested the delay so the Harbor District’s new general manager could participate in the review.
The Harbor District was last scrutinized by LAFCo in 2006 despite state law that mandates special tax districts face reviews every five years.
Last year, the San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury recommended the Harbor District be dissolved.
But Brennan told the Daily Journal that the grand jury also made other recommendations that the district is currently implementing and that it provides critical services to the commercial fishing industry.
The district’s board terminated its controversial relationship with the California Maritime Infrastructure Bank/Authority and created seven committees, including a finance committee, Jan. 7.
“The district had not had any active committees in more than 10 years,” Brennan told the Daily Journal.
Brennan requested that LAFCo wait six months before starting the review but was not surprised by Wednesday’s vote.
The review will be burdensome on district employees but the “process will be beneficial,” Brennan said.
The Harbor District manages and owns Pillar Point Harbor on the coast and operates Oyster Point Marina/Park under a joint powers agreement with South San Francisco.
The district operates on a $10 million budget with about half coming from property tax. The critical jury report looked at a variety of its issues including finances and its widely reported board dysfunction.
The municipal service review will update information on the district’s use, need and accountability.
LAFCo favored dissolution as far back as 1977.
If it does move to dissolve the district, its property, annual tax income and other assets would be absorbed by the county and possibly South San Francisco.
The board will contract with Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. to conduct the review at a cost of $37,940. The review is expected to be completed early next year.
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