The fiscally strapped Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, saying it wants to cut costs, is considering setting a cap on travel expenses for its board of directors.
"I'm concerned about expenditures," said board member Glen Peterson, who introduced the idea. "We need to get our belts tightened."
The board will put the matter on the agenda sometime around the end of October, district officials said.
According to agency records, Director A. Macneil Stelle spent the most on travel over the past two years, billing the agency $6,530 in fiscal 1993-94 and $7,586 for the first 11 months of fiscal 1994-95, the only period for which records are available. He said the expenses were for agency business, primarily for travel and lodging at water-related conventions and seminars.
Over the same period, Ann Dorgelo billed the agency for $2,549 and $2,520; Hal Helsley, $2,115 and $2,488; Peterson, $2,562 and $1,166; and Steve Gavin, $1,191 and $330.
Peterson said some travel is necessary to keep up with the latest developments in technology.
"I can assure you that when we go to conferences we confer with people," he said. "We're not there recreating."
The agency, which has raised water rates annually for several years to balance its budget, came under fire this spring from many landowners when it levied a new tax on parcels within the district but not yet hooked up to the district. And critics say the agency has wasted money by building a new $8-million headquarters that is expected to be completed later this year.
Last July, the water agency agreed to give roughly 3% raises for non-management, unionized employees, effective in January, 1996. Management employees received raises of as much as 2%, in July, and will be eligible for another 2% in January. Both raises will be based on performance.
General Manager Jim Colbaugh received a $7,000 raise last January, bringing his annual salary to $122,304.