Transparency: able to be seen through; easy to notice or understand; honest and open; not secretive
With a definition like that, it’s not hard to understand why ‘transparency’ is such a valuable commodity in government. From the distant Federal Government in Washington, to the State, County and all the way down to our local Community Services District, it is your right to know—and your elected officials’ responsibility to make clear—the actions and processes involved in carrying out the people’s business.
The Ralph M. Brown Act was passed in 1953 to compel legislative bodies to conduct meetings in the open. The Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) has implemented a program wherein a district can take its commitment to transparency even further.
The Bear Valley Community Services District has committed to pursue the Foundation’s
District Transparency Certificate of Excellence.
Scroll down to find information on the many aspects of transparency such as:
California's Open Meeting Act
Serving on the Board of Directors
Members of the Board of Directors have an obligation to conduct business on your behalf in an ethical and impartial manner. They must be mindful of how they make decisions and to assure that they represent our community as a whole and not just one aspect or constituency.
There are a great many laws that govern the ethical conduct of public officials; laws that not only address conflicts of interest, but criminal activity and corruption as well. In addition, in 2005 California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1234 requiring, among other things, that local agency officials “receive at least two hours of training in general ethics principles and ethics laws relevant to his or her public service every two years.”
One thing that is important to keep in mind is that our Board members are likely not seasoned politicians; they are our neighbors who have stepped up to do a difficult and often thankless service to our community. To help them navigate through the confusing maze of laws and best practices, and to comply with AB 1234, District General Council Don Davis conducted an interactive training session prior to the December 12, 2019 Regular Board Meeting.
Because the CSD Conflict of Interest Code requires all officials who manage public investments and all staff members who are involved in making financial decisions to take ethics training as well, this session was well attended. District committee volunteers and members of the public also took part.
If you would like to review what your community officials learned at that meeting, please click on the links below:
In addition, the Board of Directors has adopted a policy to guide those who serve and demonstrate their commitment to act and govern transparently and ethically:
California's Open Meeting Law is officially known as the Ralph M. Brown Act and is found in the California Government Code § 54950 and following. The Brown Act was adopted in 1953 to guarantee the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. The Brown Act is pivotal in making public officials accountable for their actions and in allowing the public to participate in the decision-making process.
The Brown Act governs local agencies, legislative bodies of local government agencies created by state or federal law and any standing committee of a covered board or legislative body, and governing bodies of non-profit corporations formed by a public agency.
It is important that District employees and members of the Board of Directors understand the requirements and limitations under the Brown Act. It is equally important that members of the Bear Valley Springs community know and understand the requirements imposed upon their local government and their rights under the Brown Act.
In that spirit, the Board of Directors has adopted the Brown Act Compliance Policy linked below.
Section 6253 of the California Government Code provides that every person has a right to inspect any public record except those specifically exempted by law. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) was adopted to ensure that every person in California has access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business. The CPRA governs state and local agencies, which includes special districts such as Bear Valley Community Services District.
Local agencies may adopt regulations establishing procedures for requesting public records in order to provide clarity of the process to the public and allow for efficient access to identifiable records.
You can view the BVCSD policy regarding Public Records Requests at the link below.
The Board of Directors meets monthly on the second Thursday at 6:00 pm. Closed session items may be heard prior to convening or after adjournment of the open session meeting.
Special meetings may be scheduled from time to time as needed.
Public Comments: Members of the public may address the Board on matters not listed on the Agenda. The Board cannot take action on any item that is not on the Agenda. The Board or staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed, or may ask questions for clarification. These items may also be referred to staff or scheduled on a future Agenda. There will be a separate opportunity for public comment for each item on the Agenda.
- Please indicate if you wish to comment upon an Agenda Item or Non-Agenda Item.
- Please complete a separate speaker card for each item you wish to speak on and present it to the Clerk.
- When you are called upon, please take the podium. If you need special assistance or accommodation, please contact the Clerk.
- Please limit your comments to three minutes so that all who wish to speak can be heard.
Please Note: The public comment period is not meant to be a back-and-forth exchange. It is recommended that you utilized the allotted three minutes to fully offer your comments and the Board or staff may choose to briefly respond after the time has expired.
California Government Code Section 61110 stipulates the budget timelines and procedures to be followed by Community Services Districts. The pertinent dates are:
July 1 – 61110(c) “On or before July 1 of each year…the board of directors shall publish a notice stating all of the following:
- Either that it has adopted a preliminary budget or that the general manager has prepared a proposed final budget which is available for inspection at a time and place within the district specified in the notice.
- The date, time, and place when the board of directors will meet to adopt the final budget and that any person may appear and be heard regarding any item in the budget or regarding the addition of other items.
September 1 – 61110(f) “On or before September 1 of each year the board of directors shall adopt a final budget that conforms to generally accepted accounting and budgeting procedures for special
districts.The general manager shall forward a copy of the final budget to the auditor of each county in which the district is located.”
Prior to adoption, the District holds Budget Study Sessions with the Board and members of the public and presents the proposed budget to the Finance Committee for review and recommendation to the Board of Directors. A notice is then published in the Tehachapi News stating the date, time and place when the Board of Directors will meet to adopt the final budget and that any person may appear and be heard regarding any item in the budget or regarding the addition of other items.
Budgets for the past 10 years can be found in the Documents Library
Pursuant to Government Code 61118(a), “the board of directors shall provide for regular audits of the district's accounts and records pursuant to Section 26909.”
Government Code 26909(a)(2), states “the audit shall conform to generally accepted auditing standards, and a report thereof shall be filed with the Controller and with the county auditor of the county in which the special district is located. The report shall be filed within 12 months of the end of the fiscal year or years under examination.”
To ensure accountability, transparency and compliance with the law, and to provide the Board of Directors, District staff, rate-payers,taxpayers, bondholders and other interested parties with useful information concerning the District’s operations and financial position, the District retains an outside accounting firm to perform and present an to the Board of Directors annually.
Audits for the past 10 years can be found in the Documents Library
Special Districts are required to disclose any reimbursement paid by the district within the immediately preceding fiscal year of at least one hundred dollars ($100) for each individual charge for services or product received. The disclosure requirement shall be fulfilled by including the reimbursement information in a document published or printed at least annually by a date determined by that district and shall be made available for public inspection. (California Government Code Section 53065.5)
In 2010, the State Controller's Office (SCO) created the Government Compensation in California (GCC) website to enhance government transparency and provide a single statewide database that is accessible by anyone at any time. The SCO is required to publish the information on its website under the authority of Government Code Section 12463.
The GCC Public Pay website contains pay and benefit information for positions in cities, counties, special districts, and state government, including California State University (CSU). Other public employers submit pay and benefit information on a voluntary basis for positions in superior courts, the University of California, community college districts, K-12 education providers, First 5 commissions, and fairs and expositions.
This report is prepared annually by District staff and must be submitted to the State Controller by April 30 of the following year. It will subsequently be published by the SCO on the GCC Public Pay website.
Gregory Hahn, President
From: December 2018
Current term expires December 2022
Terry Quinn, Vice-President
From: December 2018
Current term expires December 2022
John Grace, Director
From: December 2020
Current term expires December 2024
Charles Jensen, Director
From: December 2020
Current term expires December 2024
Bear Valley Community Services District is governed by a 5-member Board of Directors, elected at large from the community for staggered 4-year terms. “At large” means the board of directors are elected by the voters of the entire district.
Qualifications: Board member qualifications are established by California Government Code § 61040, which states “No person shall be a candidate for the board of directors unless he or she is a voter of the district”. This means candidates must be at least 18 years of age, a resident of the District and registered to vote. Property ownership is not a requirement to serve on the Board of Directors.
Process: Elections are conducted by Kern County Elections Division and consolidated with November general elections. Kern County prepares and delivers a Notice of Election with instructions, filing dates and information on when, where and how to obtain candidacy papers. Once this notice is received by the District, it is posted at the District office and publicized on our website, social media platforms and electronic newsletter. It is also included as an information item at the next regular meeting of the Board of Directors.
Filing Deadlines: The filing period for the November consolidated general election begins 113 days prior to the general election date and ends 88 days prior to the election date. If no current Board Member has filed by this date, the deadline is extended an additional 5 days for non-incumbents only to file. (California Elections Code Section § 10516)
Newly elected Directors take office at noon on the first Friday in December following the general district election. (CA Elections Code Section 10554)
California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) requires every elected official and public employee who makes or influences governmental decisions to annually submit a Statement of Economic Interest, also known as the Form 700. The Form 700 provides transparency and ensures accountability in two ways:
1. It provides necessary information to the public about an official’s personal financial interests to ensure that officials are making decisions in the best interest of the public and not enhancing their personal finances.
2. It serves as a reminder to the public official of potential conflicts of interest so the official can abstain from making or participating in governmental decisions that are deemed conflicts of interest.