LAFCo schedules April 17 Truckee meeting
Special districts and representatives from the town can vent their frustrations on consolidation directly to the Nevada County Local Area Formation Commission – the agency that brought up the consolidation study in the first place – when it comes to Truckee next month.
LAFCo Executive Director S.R. Jones said the commission will meet Thursday, April 17, at the Truckee Sanitary District board room at 9 a.m. to receive public input on a consolidation study.
“There is a recognition that you need to talk about this where people can get to the meeting,” Jones said. “The bottom line is hearing what the residents have to say because the question is ‘what is optimal for the people?'”
Jones said LAFCo’s aim in suggesting a study wasn’t so much to propose consolidation, but more to study the efficiency and effectiveness of providing services to the public.
“The idea is not to focus on one set scenario; it is important for the study to look at all possible options,” Jones said, adding the overall assumption is the study will look only at special district consolidation. “There are other options, too.”
A study could prove consolidation is not a good thing, Jones said.
“There may be reasons not to make any changes at all, but at least we would know,” Jones said. “We are just saying let’s look at the issues.”
Meanwhile, at last Thursday’s town council meeting representatives from the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, Truckee Sanitary, Truckee-Donner Public Utility and Truckee Fire Protection districts presented councilmembers with letters stating their respective boards would not support consolidation at this time.
Ron Hemig, TDPUD board president, said if the town proceeds with its own study there will be no vested interest by the special districts, relations between town staff and district boards will be strained and public confidence in local government will suffer.
Should the town elect to perform a joint study with the districts Hemig said the final product will be of higher quality, any course of action provided by the study could be implemented smoothly, it would allow collaborative efforts between districts and the town to continue and public confidence in local government would increase.
Mike Terwilliger, TFD’s deputy chief, said he supported the council’s decision to leave the consolidation issue out of the Sphere of Influence request at the March 6 meeting.
“I support your action at the last meeting; I think it was very good,” Terwilliger said. “I am also glad to see LAFCo has made a decision to bring the issue to residents of the eastern side of the county.”
Truckee resident Chuck Holt said he believes the time is right to pursue a consolidation study and that the special districts have no reason to be “running scared.”
“A study isn’t a foregone conclusion that we will consolidate the districts into the city,” Holt said.
Councilmember Steve Carpenter said the purpose of the study is to collect more information. Study results could conclude consolidation is not the best thing for area residents, he said.
“Maybe we would change our priorities if the study says (consolidation) would save a billion dollars per day, but I don’t think that will happen,” Carpenter said.
Councilman Don McCormack addressed the timing issue, asking if now is not the right time for a study or consolidation when is?
“The biggest thing I have heard is it’s not the right time. I think the districts agree a thorough and comprehensive study has some merits,” McCormack said. “But if not now, when?
“What is the objective way to decide when the timing is appropriate?”
Councilmember Josh Susman said the issue has been blown out of proportion.
“We (the council) simply suggested at LAFCo’s request to entertain the idea of the study,” Susman said, adding he supports a valid study so this council or one in the future has information to act on.
Pat Sutton, TDPUD board member and LAFCo commissioner, said she believed the districts would help fund a study provided it was a study of local government.
“They would pay their fair share if it was an evaluation of the total governing body at the local level,” Sutton said.
Mayor Bob Drake said there is nothing wrong with service provided by the special districts and the council is trying to do what is best for Truckee residents.
“I have always believed there is not anything wrong with service. All I ever said was look at (consolidation),” Drake said. “All I am looking at is what is good for this community.”
Drake also cited the council’s decision to keep consolidation and TTAD lands out of the sphere request as evidence of the town’s motive in supporting a study.
“We asked LAFCo to separate consolidation out of the sphere and we and the airport are arguing with LAFCo to let us do this with the (memorandum of understanding),” Drake said.
No action was taken at the March 20 meeting as the item was listed on the council’s agenda as a public discussion.
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