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Oceano general manager ousted

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Oceano Community Services District General Manager Raffaele Montemurro got the boot.

The district’s Board of Directors took more than four hours to decide at a closed meeting May 31 to give Montemurro the ax. The vote was unanimous, and Montemurro handed over the keys immediately after the meeting.

GONE :  Oceano General Manager Raffaele Montemurro, pictured left, was fired by the Community Services District Board of Directors on May 31. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • GONE : Oceano General Manager Raffaele Montemurro, pictured left, was fired by the Community Services District Board of Directors on May 31.

Montemurro’s firing marks the second time in about a month a county services district board ousted its general manager. The first was Cambria’s Tammy Rudock, who was fired April 29.

The meeting was a somber occasion, with only two members of the public attending to hear Montemurro’s fate.

It’s unclear what the specific terms of Montemurro’s termination were. He’s contractually entitled to two months pay unless he was dismissed with cause—in other words, if he violated the terms of his contract. Montemurro had no comment after
the meeting.

Board Vice President Matt Guerrero said any further details would be revealed at the board’s June 8 meeting when the board will decide how to go about finding a new general manager.

The effort to fire Montemurro had been building for months. The directors constantly berated him at district meetings for not finishing financial audits, keeping financial information from them, and for not doing what they told him to do.

The final straw came after two new directors—Felma Hurdle and Rick Searcy—were appointed to the board by the three sitting directors at the May 12 meeting. Moments after the new directors took their seats, Montemurro publically admitted he hadn’t paid the district’s water bill for more than four months. Montemurro told the board he didn’t pay the district’s latest scheduled payment for 303 acre-feet of Lopez Lake water because the district didn’t have the money. That water is one of the main sources of drinking water for the district.

The $92,000 bill for the water had been due Jan. 1, but Montemurro didn’t pay the bill until just before the May 12 meeting, he said, because he wanted to “stretch out the payments.” In the end, there was no penalty for the late bill payment.

Montemurro hadn’t told the directors the district was in such bad financial shape. The board soon scheduled a closed-session meeting to discuss Montemurro’s fate.

Hurdle, a retired correctional officer; and Searcy, a former board member, replaced former directors Jim Hill and Carole Henson, who resigned in March. The departing directors said they were tired of dealing with Montemurro, for his not doing what they told him to do.

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