Two senior administrators from the Marin City Community Services District have announced their resignations, inflicting yet another setback on the board as it stabilizes its finances.
District tax administrator Bruce Palmore informed Acting Managing Director Don Lancaster that he was stepping down in an email on September 15. Palmore said his last day would be September 30.
âI think we’ve accomplished a lot and brought fiscal credibility to Marin City, especially with the county,â Palmore wrote.
Two days later, Lancaster sent an email to the district administration board announcing his intention to leave on October 1.
âIt has been a pleasure to serve Marin City,â Lancaster wrote. âWe have made substantial progress over the past 16 months and I can say with confidence that the MCCSD is stronger today than it was yesterday.
Neither Palmore nor Lancaster explained in their letters why they were leaving. Neither responded to requests for comment.
Marin City Community Service District is a special district established by the Marin County Board of Supervisors in 1958 to provide recreational services to the unincorporated neighborhood. The district also oversees household garbage services and street lighting.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the district reported $ 1.3 million in revenue and $ 1.1 million in expenses. It is funded primarily by property taxes and grants.
Damian Morgan, chairman of the elected five-member district board of directors, said he did not know the reason for the resignations.
âThe timing was a bit surprising as we are still working on our financial situation,â Morgan said. “But as an interim CEO, you know it’s probably not for the long term.”
Lancaster has been Acting Managing Director for 16 months. He is the fifth district general manager since 2018.
âMarin City is a unique community, and we’re under a lot here,â Morgan said of general manager turnover. âOur board and staff are planning a very important budget meeting in October.â
Morgan was elected to the board in 2018 from a slate of nominees that included Terrie Harris-Green and incumbent Royce McLemore.
âWe have entered a financial crisis,â Morgan said. âBut so far we’ve made great strides and we’re almost there. We’re all caught up, except for a few internal financial issues.
Morgan declined to elaborate on what these issues are or what the district budget meeting will entail next month.
The district’s annual financial statements posted on its website show that in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the district’s expenses exceeded its income.
RJ Ricciardi, the certified public accounting firm that audited the district’s 2018 financial statements, wrote: âWe were unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to base an audit opinion. Marin City Community Service District does not maintain sufficient accounting records to ensure that all transactions are recorded. “
In 2018, the district administration board appointed a new interim executive director, Howard Smith, and fired most of the 28 district staff. Also in March of the same year, Roy Given, director of the Marin County finance department, began working with the district.
Given said in 2019 that at the height of its financial crisis in 2018, the district was in debt by $ 125,000.
That year, the neighborhood got back on track. His income exceeded his expenses by over $ 184,000, and in 2020, his income exceeded expenses by $ 156,000. Recent district audits have been âunqualifiedâ or favorable.
âWe have a surplus of over $ 200,000 at the moment,â Morgan said. âThe pay is paid. We would like to be in better shape but so far everything is fine. We are looking to work in a true partnership with the county finance ministry to get through this transition.
The district currently employs 10 people.
Supervisor Stephanie Moulton-Peters, whose district includes Marin City, said the county would help the district if its board of directors asked for help, “as we do with other county councils when we the request”.
âI really care about CSD,â Moulton-Peters said, âand I want to support them.â
Mina Martinovich, the county’s deputy finance director, said on Thursday that she had so far not received any requests for help from the district administration board.
âThe question is, in what capacity does the district ask for help? Martinovitch said. âOver the past few years, we have processed their payroll on their behalf. But we stopped doing this effective calendar year 2020, and they started processing their own payroll. “
At the supervisors meeting last week, Moulton-Peters mentioned that she had met with the district administration board each month to discuss a variety of issues.
Morgan criticized Moulton-Peters during the ensuing public comment period.
âUnfortunately, our meetings are a way of waiting for us to tell us what we want to hear,â Morgan said. âWe haven’t made any progress.
At a supervisors meeting in July, Lancaster questioned whether the district was getting its fair share of the increased tax revenue resulting from the creation of the Gateway Mall in Marin City.
Lancaster declined to share his specific concerns after the meeting.
âI looked into the matter, and in fact, we had a meeting with the finance department and the CSD and provided information to them,â Moulton-Peters said. “The finance department explained that they were getting the county money owed to them.”
Despite his challenges, Morgan said the district administration board continues to explore the feasibility of incorporating Marin City into the county’s 12th municipality.