Oceanside Water Utilities director resigns

OCEANSIDE — There was no formal announcement, and it’s too early for a farewell, but Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood formerly thanked Water Utilities Director Cari Dale for her service following a water department presentation at the Oct. 15 council meeting.

After the meeting Dale confirmed she resigned a week ago, following a long run of unfruitful salary discussions with City Manager Steve Jepsen.

Dale oversees Oceanside’s water purchases, and operations and maintenance of its two wastewater treatment plants, two water treatment plants, 450 miles of pipeline, and service to residents and businesses.

Next month Dale will move on to a management position with Olivenhain Municipal Water District, which serves parts of Encinitas, Carlsbad, San Diego, Solana Beach, San Marcos, Rancho Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe and Santa Fe Valley.

Dale said the position has less leadership responsibilities, and pays more. She added the bottom line in her decision was salary.

“I have a kid going to college next year,” Dale said.

Dale’s current salary is $165,000.

A comparable salary of a water district manager is in the range of $205,000.

Dale said she is leaving the water utilities department in good hands, and in good standing.

Dale took on the job as department director in 2010. When Dale first came on board the city was on credit watch for its bonds, and all projects had stopped.

In four years she led the department to improve its credit rating, built up reserve funds, and gained community trust.

New bonds were issued, and the city improved its credit rating by two grades. Financial improvements, along with increased water rates allowed long overdue infrastructure repairs to be made.

Dale said changes took an aggressive education campaign to heighten the City Council’s awareness of the necessity of taking care of infrastructure improvements.

Dale will stay on with the city through November to see through the upcoming water rates workshop. Her last day on the job is Nov. 21.

She added it is a bit difficult to leave, and she is confident in the staff to finish up ongoing projects including reservoir upgrades and harbor desalination testing.

“There are so many cool things going on,” Dale said.

Dale will start work at Olivenhain Municipal Water District Nov. 24.

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