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Mayor Jerry Sanders recommended today that the City Council refund $600,000 to the Water Department and restore control of the Chollas Reservoir to the city’s Park and Recreation Department in response to a San Diego County Grand Jury probe into the city’s management of service level agreements.

In April, a county grand jury said San Diego was subsidizing its general fund by overcharging self-sustaining departments such as the Water Department and the Metropolitan Wastewater Department for staff and equipment.

“It shouldn’t have taken a grand jury to detail these reports,” Sanders said today during a press conference. “We should have done that ourselves.”

The report said the Water Department transferred $600,000 from its enterprise funds to the city’s general fund for storing water in the Chollas Reservoir and noted that neither the city’s Park and Recreation Department nor the Water Department could justify the transfer. Sanders’ plan called for that money to be refunded to the Water Department out of the city’s fiscal year 2006 budget.

The mayor also ordered the cancellation of an agreement between the Water and Park and Recreation departments valued at more than $800,000 in which the latter provided concessions services to the former.

The Grand Jury report concluded that with respect to those services, “rate payers are subsidizing (Park and Recreation) functions which provide little or no benefit to the water system or water ratepayers.”

During the press conference, Sanders also announced that former Navy Capt. James Barrett will take over as director of the Water Department and acting director Charles Yackly will resume his role in the No. 2 spot.

SAM HODGSON

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