Board members approached public comment at the August board meeting as they had at the July board meeting: they responded to as many questions and concerns as possible on the spot. Questions and comments that they could not answer immediately will receive attention either at the next board meeting or between now and then.
Some of the public comment did not require response. Former board member Jan Pizzi, for example, stood up during public comment in order to remind the audience that board service is a labor of love. She mentioned that board members receive $100 per meeting, not to exceed $1600 per year, although the number of hours they dedicate to the job far exceeds that figure in value.
A new resident rose to ask a number of questions, many of which the board was able to answer on the spot, and two of which will require more time. He asked whether the district had ever undergone an audit, to which the board responded that it undergoes an external audit annually. He asked what percentage of residents use the rec centers, and, although she did not have the percentage available, the district’s Parks and Recreation manager was able to provide some relevant figures: the district has 2,092 signed usage agreements on hand (representing about 80% of the approximately 2500 homes in Woodmen Hills), and there have been 14,444 recreation center uses so far in 2017. He asked when the renovations on Recreation Center East would begin, to which Board Member Walter Porter said that we would begin as soon as we have the permits. He asked why the YMCA doesn’t run the rec centers, to which the district responded that it decided to forego the YMCA’s services in part because of the expense involved in contracting for its services. Besides the percentage of residents who use the rec centers, this resident’s other unanswered question was the cost to the district to operate Recreation Center East and Community Center West each year. The board promised to track down that number, along with the percentage of residents who use the facilities.
During the course of this conversation with the new resident, Jan Pizzi mentioned that when she first joined the board, the board’s policy was not to permit any public comment whatsoever. We have come a long way, she pointed out: now the district not only entertains questions but responds on the spot and even engages in extended dialogue with the audience when possible.
The final public comment came from Ron Pace, who criticized a Woodmen Hills staff member, once again, over a district bill Woodmen Hills Metro District submitted to a bankruptcy court during one of his bankruptcy proceedings.