TCSD candidate Robert Rosales
Editor’s note: Candidates for a seat on the Templeton Community Services District (TCSD) were each asked the same set of questions in a timed interview. The questions cover the five main services under the TCSD umbrella (water, wastewater/sewer, solid waste, emergency services/Fire Department, Parks & Recreation), and included questions regarding Board policy and the current state of TCSD.
Robert Rosales has been a resident of Templeton for about 10 years and prior to that owned a business in downtown Templeton for 7 years – Eagle Market & Deli. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly in Political Science and is a real estate broker.
Rosales served on the Board of the Templeton Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, and a member of the Templeton Area Advisory Group for 6 plus years. He is currently serving on the Templeton Unified School District Measure H-12 Community Oversight Committee and is a member of the Templeton Community Services District Ad Hoc Committee that is looking into funding enhancement for Templeton Fire Department.
Templeton’s Fire Department (TFD) is under the TCSD umbrella of services. The Board of Directors oversees the Fire Department through both policy and budgetary considerations. As a department head, the Fire Chief answers directly to the General Manager. Funding for TFD comes from a small portion of local property taxes ($658,800 in the current budget), supplemented by occasional grants.
(a) What do you feel are the top 3 issues currently facing Templeton’s Fire Department, and if elected, how would you work to solve these issues?
• Funding – The department, whichever model is decided upon, will need an increase in funding. We need to determine the type of funding, with extensive community outreach, and proceed.
• Sufficient staffing – At this time we have a very lean staff, and it should be increased to a level that supports the anticipated increase in workload so as not to overwhelm our firefighter personnel
• Consistent leadership – We have been thru a number of interim Chief in recent years. We need to decide what form of leadership is best suited for our model and fill the position on a permanent basis.
(b) If the challenges can’t be overcome, would you support folding TFD into another fire service like CAL FIRE or perhaps a regional north county service? If yes, which of these options would you choose and why? If no, why not?
• If the challenges cannot be overcome, we have no real alternative but to fold into another agency. Preliminary discussions have taken place regarding both alternatives, but more details need to be flushed out before making a decision, including the type of service we can expect and the ultimate costs to our residents
(c) What would be the pros and the cons for the town of Templeton if TFD was folded into another fire service?
• Pros – in theory, costs would be reduced
• Cons – There is a question of reduced service, but I think a better way of saying it is a lack of dedicated service to the community. Also, I feel we would lose some of our identity, and since most of our current firefighters are residents, I feel they have more of a stake in the betterment of the community, which we would also see if our department became part of a more regional agency.
(d) Would you support a “fire fee” / assessment on local property owners to raise funds to support Templeton’s Fire Department?
• Both options are on the table, and I support more public outreach before making a choice. Part of that outreach should include a conversation to determine what level of investment residents would be willing to provide to maintain the Templeton Fire Department
Historically, the Board of Directors has made many decisions through the lens of a policy that stated, “All new development will pay its own way.” This policy was regularly followed by previous boards since the founding of TCSD in 1976, and was implemented with the belief that current rate payers for water, wastewater, etc., should not have to pay for new resources or infrastructure needed for new development. But recently, some have questioned whether or not the policy should be changed.
(a) Do you support the current policy that states that new development will pay its own way, or do you believe current rate payers should foot part of the bill for additional resources and infrastructure needed to produce that development?
• I feel that we should consider having current rate payers pay a portion of the cost for the resources and infrastructure for new nonresidential development.
• There must be a nexus for this, and I feel that the entire community benefits from new nonresidential development. A prime example is Trader Joe’s, which provides goods for residents of this community, as well as employment – both benefits to community members. This would also help during times when no new development is occurring, as during the recent recession. During that time TCSD coffers dried up quickly, in large part because of the lack of development fees being collected.
The town of Templeton currently has a dual wastewater collection and treatment system. In general, flows from the east side of Hwy 101 are collected and sent to Paso Robles for treatment, and wastewater from the west side of the freeway is collected and treated at Templeton’s Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. Currently, TCSD is laying the groundwork to collect and treat all wastewater produced by Templeton internally at Meadowbrook – when and if, the Board of Directors chooses to do so.
(a) What are the pros and cons of bringing wastewater flows currently sent to Paso Robles back to Templeton?
• value of the reclaimed water produced
• while operational and maintenance cost may increase, the overall efficiency of the plant would be reduced to offset those costs
• local control
• initial cost of required upgrades and infrastructure
• No more safety net if something goes wrong at the plant, or with infrastructure
(b) If elected, which option would you choose to support?
• Bring it back
• I would rather we control our ability to serve our community, and see it as an investment in Templeton
(d) If the flows are brought back to Templeton, who should pay for it and how should it be paid for?
• We should first seek grants, then low interest loans , and finally part of a possible bond measure
The town of Templeton is facing a number of water issues now and in the near future.
(a) What do you feel are the top 5 issues and how would you prioritize them (most urgent to least urgent)?
• Sufficient supply
• Improved quality
• Sufficient storage
• The liability of 800+ outstanding water units
(b) If elected, how would you work to solve these issues?
• I would continue my advocacy for full allocation of Nacimiento water, and seek more sites for wells. I would support building of a water treatment plant, moving forward with seeking a location for another storage tank and improving our infrastructure. We should consider something similar to a Standby Charge for the outstanding unit owners. Funding will be the key.
In 1999, the Board of Supervisors adopted a new solid waste franchise agreement that raised single can rates in Templeton as much as 70 percent over the previous rates. As a result, a number of residents petitioned TCSD to take over solid waste services, believing that Templeton could do a much better job than the County. Through agreements with Mid-State Solid Waste and Recycling, Templeton currently has some of the lowest solid waste rates in the county in conjunction with excellence in service, community participation, and leadership in innovation.
(a) Do you agree with this characterization of TCSD’s Solid Waste management thru Mid-State Solid Waste & Recycling? (yes or no)
• Low cost for great service…something all successful businesses strive for…plus, Solid Waste has been a tremendous asset to this community, volunteering their services on a constant basis throughout the year…
(c) If elected, what changes to Solid Waste services or the franchise agreement would you like to see addressed?
• I would like to see more recycling opportunities for nonresidential pickup, in particular recycle dumpster provided to the larger operations that use paper and cardboard products extensively.
PARKS AND RECREATION
The fifth department under the TCSD umbrella is Templeton Parks & Recreation which is primarily supported by a small fraction of local taxes ($237,900 in this year’s Rec Department budget) in addition to participation fees for youth sports and sports events, sponsorships for events and youth sports teams, and fees for parks and facilities rentals. In addition to youth sports and events like Summer Concerts in the Park, Templeton Rec also oversees Evers Sports Park, Templeton Skate Park, the Community Garden, Tom Jermin, Sr. Park (formally Bethel Park) and the Templeton Community Center. The budget must cover the Rec department employee’s salaries and benefits, the care and upkeep of the parks and facilities, and all programs (youth sports and events).
(a) What, in your opinion, are the greatest challenges facing Templeton Recreation today?
• Rec needs more resources to accomplish their mission, including staff and revenue. Although operations are run efficiently, the needs are greater than can be accommodated.
(b) The current Board of Directors has asked staff to jettison any recreation program or event that doesn’t pay its own way – including staff time (salaries). As a result, two long-standing traditions in Templeton have been cut from the Recreation Department. Both the Templeton Easter Egg Hunt and the Halloween Party for Templeton’s youngest “trick-or-treaters” at the Fire Station have been done away with this year. Do you agree with this budgetary decision / perspective? Why or why not?
• I struggle with this one. I understand the need to cut costs, including those programs that do not generate revenue. However, these two programs were a form recreation – bringing a large number of community members together each year. They were programs that accomplish the mission of the Rec Department. Perhaps the decision can be revisited, with the Rec Department taking a lesser role than in previous years, and including local civic organization and school student participation…
(c) If elected, how would you work to help solve the challenges you believe are facing the Recreation Department?
• We need to first complete the update to the Park & Rec Department Master Plan that is in the works, and finding out more details about the needs of the community.
STATE OF THE DISTRICT
The 2012-13 San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury published an in depth report in 2013 titled “Trouble in Templeton’s Community Services District” regarding the state of TCSD and a number of serious challenges then facing the district. The following year, the 2013-14 Grand Jury published a follow up report titled “Responding to Recommendations”, in part to see if TCSD had improved. “While progress has been made and the district has been characterized as now being on a positive, upward trajectory, there is still work to be done,” said Soaring Eagle Press Editor Nanette Fisher in an assessment of the District following the publication of the second Grand Jury report.
(a) Do you agree with this assessment? (yes or no)
(b) What challenges do you feel still need to be addressed?
• Groundwork has been laid in that the District is improved, but many major decisions need to be made – water, wastewater and fire department. All will have significant implications for the community and possibly a significant fiscal impact on the residents. Thus, the District must focus on educating the rate payers and be transparent at all levels…
(c) If elected, how would you work with both staff and your fellow Directors to tackle any challenges you feel still need to be attended to?
• Be open and transparent. We have a very dedicated staff and the Board needs to make sure they are knowledgeable, have the technology, and the support they need to accomplish their directives…
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
• With your support, I am committed to managing the growth of our community to the best of my ability while maintaining our sense of the community, using my knowledge of the issues and experience within the community to guide my decisions…
ABOUT SOARING EAGLE PRESS
This 2014 Candidates Forum was brought to you by Soaring Eagle Press and its sponsors.
Templeton’s “Almost Daily” is published by Soaring Eagle Press and is made possible through a team of local sponsors. The publication serves the greater Templeton area throughout the school district boundaries and provides a central clearing house for community information and other items of interest. Its Mission Statement is “First and foremost to let readers know what’s coming up so they can remain informed and involved, secondly to highlight our youth’s achievements because they are both the focus and the future of our community, and finally, deal with the adult shenanigans when there is time and space.”
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