District money paid to family members or companies owned by family members of the general manager were approved at the May 20 Pine Cove Water District (PCWD) Board of Directors meeting. 

The newspaper asked for the bids related to “repairs for heater and new duct work in shop” and “install new filter rack with upgraded filter” listed in the March financial statement, as both items were completed by Idyllwild Heating and Air Conditioning in the total amount of $1,866.07. The company is owned by the brother of PCWD’s General Manager Jerry Holldber. 

The newspaper submitted a public records request on May 20 for the bids related to both items. The district had 10 calendar days to respond. A response was not received by press time on May 27. The newspaper did receive the following response on Friday, May 29: “There are no documents responsive to your request.”

In addition, a payment of $250 was made to Jocelyn Holldber, niece of the general manager by marriage, to sterilize and disinfect the office. 

The newspaper reported after the last PCWD board meeting that PCWD Board Member Vicki Jakubac had voted to approve expenditures, including a payment to SoCal Propane of which her husband is a part-owner. According to the California Federal Political Practices Commission, the vote would be a conflict of interest.

Jakubac decided to recuse herself from the approval of the expenditures going forward beginning with the May meeting (approved both March and April) due to the potential conflict of interest even though the district’s legal counsel, in a statement read by Board President Robert Hewitt, said it is not a conflict of interest. The district’s attorney is Brad Neufeld of Varner & Brandt. 

The newspaper also requested all receipts for expenditures made for transportation and travel by the district for FY 2019/20. The district has $18,000 allocated for transportation and travel and has spent $14,237 as of March 31. The same amount is allocated for the proposed FY 2020/21 budget.

In the proposed FY 2020/21 budget, the Fern Valley Water District has $1,500 allocated for the same expenditure item. The newspaper requested the receipts from PCWD to see what contributes to such a high amount compared to another district. 

Copies of the receipts were received on Monday, June 1, and the newspaper will report on those in the near future.