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Sphere of influence recommendations affect special districts

DAN FOSCALINA

Less than one week after Truckee’s Town Council voted to include three additional items in its Sphere of Influence request, the Local Agency Formation Commission asked for more information before initiating the sphere amendment process.

S.R. Jones, LAFCo executive director, said the commission tabled Truckee’s sphere request until more information could be collected on three issues – minor boundary changes for subdivisions split by county lines, a special district consolidation study and including the Truckee-Tahoe Airport District in the request.

“The commission said these issues should be addressed and we are researching approaches for the commission to consider and let them see how they want to go on including this information,” Jones said.

LAFCo also postponed a decision on Truckee Fire Protection District’s sphere request as well, Jones said. TFD, Truckee-Donner Public Utility District and Truckee Sanitary District provided sphere requests, which probably won’t be reviewed until revisions to the town’s request are completed, she said.

“What is happening is if you are thinking of restructure in the town’s sphere you want that to coordinate with the other agencies’ sphere requests,” Jones said. “LAFCo needs to get more information on the town’s sphere which will, in turn, affect how it regards other agency spheres.”

Truckee Mayor Bob Drake, who attended the Feb. 27 meeting, characterized LAFCo’s action as a big deal for this area in terms of including TTAD in the sphere.

“LAFCo doesn’t want to drop it just because the airport wants to,” Drake said. “(And) now it’s down to the issue of the TTAD.”

Truckee’s Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said the town has looked into including the airport in Truckee’s sphere request and both agencies decided against it.

“We discussed it with the airport district a lot and our decision is not to include it in the sphere,” Lashbrook said. “We’ve already hashed this issue out and it all boils down to the airport agreed to cooperate with us on the (memorandum of understanding) if they were left out of the sphere.”

Lashbrook also said the MOU provides a more cooperative solution to land use issues between the town and the airport than if the district were included in the sphere request.

TTAD General Manager Peter Soderquist said a representative from the district attended the LAFCo meeting to advise commissioners Truckee and TTAD are moving forward with the MOU. Commissioners were also given a time line for finishing the MOU, he added.

“There has to be some kind of cooperation here,” Soderquist said. “If the airport district doesn’t want (to be included in the sphere) and the town doesn’t, it seems LAFCo would respect the decision.”

Soderquist said a special TTAD board of directors meeting convened March 4 with town officials in attendance. Directors are asking the town to reaffirm its position of moving ahead on the MOU and excluding TTAD lands from the sphere. The issue will also be on Thursday’s (March 6) town council agenda.

As for the consolidation issue included in Truckee’s sphere request, LAFCo Commissioner and Truckee-Donner Public Utility District Director Pat Sutton alleged a meeting of the ad hoc committee reviewing the request went unannounced.

“(Consolidation) got its start in an ad hoc committee meeting without public knowledge,” Sutton said. “If that meeting had been noticed, I am quite sure someone from the special districts would have been there.”

Sutton also claimed the town council’s decision to revise the sphere request is sending a mixed signal to the special districts.

“All of this is kind of like the town reneged on the (sphere) process it went through last fall and summer,” Sutton said.

Jones, however, said LAFCo requested a consolidation study. “They have a definite desire to look at these issues…the idea is let’s look,” she said.

TFD Fire Chief Jim Osburn, in a letter to other special district general managers, characterized the consolidation study as “an attempted hostile takeover” and urged scheduling a special meeting to develop a strategy for dealing with the issue.

“The new position of the Town of Truckee (on consolidation) is a variation from the position indicated in their sphere of influence report,” Osburn said. “The fire district is very concerned witht his new venture and feels it is a possible threat to the high level of service this community has.”

In the meantime, Drake said Truckee town staff will work with LAFCo’s staff in addressing the three issues commissioners want included in the sphere request and return to the commission.

Jones said the completed request is tentatively scheduled to return to LAFCo at its March 20 meeting.

Truckee Councilman Don McCormack and Truckee Sanitary District Director Ron Sweet are also LAFCo commissioners.


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