– Jefferson Kise
The Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SVBGSA) was formed as a Joint Point Powers Agency in 2017 to comply with the requirements of the newly passed Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). When leadership in the Salinas Valley determined that there was not an existing agency capable of meeting the stringent requirements of SGMA the new agency was formed to develop groundwater sustainability plans (GSP’s) for seven separate groundwater basins.
The agency was formed with interim management services provided by the City of Salinas and the County of Monterey. Two immediate tasks were to establish a management structure for the SVBGSA and acquire a grant to fund the planning effort that came with strict deadlines for delivering the first plan by January 31, 2020.
The new agency was successful at both. Issuing a request for proposals to acquire management services resulted in the agency contracting with Regional Government Services to provide a General Manager and a Clerk to staff the newly formed organization. RGS was the ideal partner for the new agency as they were capable of providing a full range of services that would be required for a startup agency while keeping costs low. Of particular interest to the new agency was the full suite of financial services that would be required. The Board has been very pleased with the management services provided by RGS.
The agency next succeeded in becoming a recipient of a $1.5 million dollar Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant. SVBGSA was awarded the grant to developing a comprehensive groundwater sustainability plan by 2020, in keeping with the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014.
Receipt of the grant presented a series of challenges that were quickly undertaken by the financial team at RGS. Some of the challenges included calculating a local cost share of not less than 50% of the total project costs much of it provided by in-kind services. This was a particular challenge as the agency needed to spend their share of the 50% before the grant started paying.
Other challenges included establishing new budget classifications and determining if there were opportunities to waive or reduce cost-share requirements for disadvantaged communities (DAC) or an economically distressed area (EDA).
These challenges along with establishing a new relationship with the California Department of Water Resources who provided the grant funding were met and the first invoices have successfully been submitted. This success is notable in that both the Agency and RGS Staff had to build new relationships and establish new accounting protocols while creating a financial framework that will serve the agency going forward in acquiring other grants.