Town, districts at odds over consolidation
Truckee’s town council reiterated its position to the Local Area Formation Commission to exclude Truckee-Tahoe Airport District lands from Truckee’s Sphere of Influence request and pursue a memorandum of understanding.
At last Thursday’s meeting, Town Manager Steve Wright recommended the council urge LAFCo to reconsider a motion made at its Feb. 27 meeting to table 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.
“(LAFCo) adopted a motion to approve staff suggestions and included a statement that said minor boundary adjustments should include airport district lands,” Wright said.
Wright recommended the council inform LAFCo that TTAD and the town have resolved sphere issues with an MOU detailing airport land use issues, that minor county boundaries adjustments include neighborhoods on the south side of Donner Lake and in Sierra Meadows and a special district consolidation be studied but not included in the sphere.
If after its March 20 meeting LAFCo does not accept Truckee and the airport’s recommendation, Wright also suggested TTAD and the town meet to discuss the next course of action.
Councilman Don McCormack said he suggested LAFCo, at its Feb. 27 meeting, divide the three issues and vote on each separately in terms of actions and motions, then adopt all three as a single motion.
Truckee Mayor Bob Drake reiterated McCormack’s idea to keep the issues separate.
“These are separate issues and we want them dealt with separately,” he said.
Councilman Steve Carpenter questioned the process for alerting LAFCo.
Wright said the council should send a letter to LAFCo requesting it reconsider the three issues and suggested following up the letter with some sort of presentation.
“You have to come up with a reason why (you disagree with LAFCo) so you can generate testimony to possibly persuade them to change their position,” Wright said.
McCormack, who is the town’s LAFCo representative, said the town has made it clear to LAFCo Truckee’s position in regard to TTAD lands, the MOU and the sphere.
“It is very appropriate to reiterate our position (now) clearly and unmistakably to exclude the airport from the sphere,” McCormack said.
TTAD General Manager Peter Soderquist said he appreciated the effort of town staff and the idea that Truckee and TTAD’s board of directors meet should LAFCo not accept the recommendations.
“LAFCo does not agree with what we are trying to accomplish here,” Soderquist told the council. “(And) I think the motion is lacking in the strength LAFCo needs to keep (TTAD) out.”
Soderquist said the town could withhold funding for the consolidation study, which town officials speculated would cost more than $70,000. Soderquist said he believed if such a funding clause was added into the language of the sphere request, LAFCo would have to accept Truckee’s recommendations.
“We asked the Town of Truckee, in making the request to LAFCo, that in addition to dropping the airport district they also withhold funding for the study,” Soderquist said after the meeting. “LAFCo would see the town is serious.”
Truckee-Donner Public Utility District Director and LAFCo Commissioner Pat Sutton accused the council of violating the state’s Ralph M. Brown Act, which controls local agencies by ensuring all meetings are open and public. Sutton claims last Thursday’s council agenda lists only discussion of TTAD lands regarding LAFCo’s ruling and not the consolidation.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate for the council to take any action on (the consolidation part of the motion),” Sutton said, adding afterward the council adopted the motion without allowing public comment on consolidation.
Drake said the council acted on the three issues because that is how it was originally presented to LAFCo.
“We included the items together because that is how it was presented to LAFCo,” Drake said. “We are trying to abide by the Brown Act; we are not trying to hide the issues.”
And Town Attorney Dennis Crabb supported the legality of the council’s pending decision saying, “The motion makes clear these are two separate issues.”
In terms of the consolidation study Drake added, “Nobody is saying merge anybody to anybody, we are just saying look at it.”
Truckee Sanitary District’s Associate General Manager Brad Statly agreed with Sutton.
“You are allowing managers to speak and not letting the public comment,” Statly said, adding because it wasn’t on the agenda people did not attend the meeting.
Another audience member applauded the council for its decision regarding TTAD, and suggested Truckee deny funding for the consolidation study and meet with airport officials now.
Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said the town hasn’t supported anything but a recommendation to LAFCo – no funding. He said the town can change its position at any time.
Drake said, “There is no money from the town going into a study.”
Tahoe City attorney Neil Eskind, acting as TTAD legal consultant, said LAFCO itself does not have the money to fund a consolidation study, therefore Truckee’s council should send the county commission a message.
“You must send a strong message letting LAFCo know the town doesn’t want to include the airport district in a consolidation study,” Eskind said. “You need to tell them it is in direct conflict with the town’s previous motion of leaving the district out of the sphere.”
Councilman Josh Susman said the council supports continuing with the airport MOU and leaving TTAD lands out of the sphere request. “We are not arguing to include the airport, we all want to exclude TTAD,” Susman said. “And nobody’s arguing the fact that we are continuing with the MOU.”
After closing public comment and further discussing the item, the council voted 5-0 to stand firm on its previous decisions: excluding TTAD lands from the sphere and pursuing the MOU, adjusting county boundaries in Sierra Meadows and Donner Lake subdivisions to become part of Nevada County and separating the consolidation study from the sphere request.
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