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Morro-Cayucos JPA to vote on consultant contract

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After one year of services, the consultant charged with persuading the California Coastal Commission that the current proposed location of the Morro Bay-Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant is sound may have her contract extended for another six months—at a cost.

As of press time, it appeared there was enough support to renew the contract of Susan McCabe, a lobbyist hired on by the joint body comprising Morro Bay and the Cayucos Sanitation District working to upgrade the communities’ joint wastewater facility.

On April 12, the Morro Bay-Cayucos Wastewater Treatment Plant JPA is scheduled to renew McCabe’s contract for another half a year, following a year of setbacks from the California Coastal Commission. The current plant location proposal has been stuck in the appeal process since February 2011.

“It is acknowledged that the coastal appeal delays and concomitant increased costs are extremely frustrating and disappointing to the City and District,” the JPA said in a staff report. “It is staff’s opinion that abandoning the services of McCabe & Company at this critical juncture would cause a significantly reduced chance of receiving approval of the Coastal Development Permit.”

But her services come at a significant cost to the JPA: $12,500 per month. JPA staffers estimate it will cost them approximately $155,000 in “consultant” fees to make it through the Coastal Commission process.

McCabe was first hired to lobby on behalf of Morro Bay and Cayucos in April 2011. Since then, she and her assistant have pulled in almost $55,000 from the JPA, according to her invoices.

The JPA is hoping to get its appeal on the Coastal Commission’s agenda in June, but whether that’s possible remains uncertain. If the appeal isn’t heard in June, the next available date will be in August.

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