Local Lawmakers Deliver Bipartisan Win For Taxpayers

At a time when our politics are polarized: here’s a rare bipartisan win for taxpayers.

Last week, a bipartisan panel of California lawmakers unanimously approved an independent audit of an obscure government agency: the South Orange County Wastewater Authority. Despite opposition from SOCWA, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted 14-0 to defeat SOCWA and move forward with the audit.

The audit request originated from state Sen. Pat Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough after concerns were raised about questionable accounting and financial mismanagement at the joint powers authority known simply as SOCWA. Sen. Bates, Assemblyman Brough and all of the members of the JLAC are to be commended for their commitment to public transparency and fiscal accountability.

Comprised of ten public agencies, SOCWA was formed as an umbrella entity to acquire federal funding to address regional wastewater treatment needs. Over the last several years, we at Moulton Niguel Water District, one of the ten member agencies of SOCWA, have asked important questions in an attempt to initiate a dialogue about better ways of doing business.

We also highlighted SOCWA’s troubling pattern of conducting business in the dark with insufficient financial oversight. This effort has been met with evasion, condemnation and the outright refusal to comply with public records requests.

SOCWA also kept spending taxpayer money. In fulfillment of our obligation to Orange County taxpayers, we took the extraordinary step of cutting off public funds for illegally-approved bills. Orange County residents rightly need basic wastewater services to continue, which is why we chose to maintain our contractually- agreed upon operating expenses.

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