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KCDZ’s Dan Stork interviews LAFCO Official

By   /   December 4, 2012  /   3 Comments

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What is the view of Local Agency Formation Commission about the decision of the Twentynine Palms Water District to step back from the process of transferring the Fire Department to the County? Reporter Dan Stork asked LAFCO about it…

At its last meeting, the Twentynine Palms Water District Board of Directors voted to pause the application to LAFCO to transfer Fire Department operations to San Bernardino County.

The morning after, Z107.7 asked Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, the Executive Director of the Local Agency Formation Commission, her reaction to the decision. She told us that it was the first she had heard of it, nor had she known that such a decision was in the works.

In a later interview, we asked for comment on publicly-aired suggestions that the City of Twentynine Palms and the Water District form a Joint Powers Authority (or JPA), or that the City share some of its revenue with the Water District.

With regard to the first idea, Ms. Rollings-McDonald gave a description of a JPA: “A Joint Powers Authority is defined as agencies coming together to perform a service that they are authorized to provide jointly.” She gave as an example, adjacent water agencies combining to provide regional wastewater treatment, as is done in the Big Bear area.

But the City is not authorized to provide fire protection, and its jurisdiction overlaps that of an agency which is authorized — the Water District. Consequently, the legal basis for a JPA in this case is problematic, and is outside of LAFCO area of concern.

With regard to the second idea, she said, “If the City were inclined, there’s a process to transfer a share of its property tax funding, and that’s in the Revenue and Taxation Code, and they can do that.” Ms. Rollings-McDonald cautioned that the cost will be ongoing, and increasing.

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About the author

Gary Daigneault

Hometown Chicopee, Massachusetts Family Status Very Married, with Children, and Grandchildren Hobbies/Interests Theater, Motorcycle riding, Indoor Broad-Jumping Most Interesting Person I've Met Ronald Reagan I'd Give Anything To... Relax for a month on a deserted tropical Island with my beautiful wife. Let Me Let You In On A Little Secret I used to be a professional Dancer, and I paint (acryclic on canvas)!! Most Memorable Z1077 Event 1989 sign-on, 1992 Earthquake, 2004 Hurricane Katrina Fund-raiser How I Keep My Daily Work Tasks Creative The staff here is so creative and fun I am never at a loss for either! My Favorite Thing To Watch On TV Right Now NFL Football (Namely, the Raiders) What's In My CD Player Right Now Soundtrack to "The Producers"

3 Comments

  1. Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

    This is a great piece of reporting for several reasons:

    First it confirms what some of have been saying about city staff – they have done nothing to address this issue.

    I find it very peculiar that Ms. McDonald knew nothing of these two options that of forming a JPA and or using property tax funding in order to maintain the TPFD.

    Did not city staff at least read the report from September 2008 written by the Davis Company?

    That report was commissioned by the then city and water board task force to evaluate the take over of the fire department by the city. That report discusses the formation of a JPA as a viable alternative that can be done by the very authority of the respective agencies without concern for LAFCO.

    Did not our city staff discuss these options with McDonald prior to Chief Hartwig’s presentation to the city council?

    Why has it taken the public via comment at a council meeting and the water board meeting but more importantly the public’s comment on the Z107.7 Up Close Show to have the city now be forced to publicly address these viable solutions?

    This story also shows that LAFCO really has no say whatsoever in regards to the formation of a JPA. Ms. McDonald is cleverly wording that the city is not “authorized” to perform fire services.

    Really? Each and every municipality in the State of California shall provide Fire and Police protection either by formation of their own Police and Fire departments or by contracting those services out to existing entities.

    In 29′s case we contract Police protection through the Sheriff’s Department. Our city dodged the Fire requirement 25 years ago because an older already existing agency – the water district – was already providing the service.

    Now comes 2012 and the failure of Measure “H” and the Water Board has every right to tell the city and LAFCO we are no longer going to provide fire protection for the city of 29 Palms.

    So what happens? The city did nothing and allowed LAFCO to propose that our responsibility as a city to provide a fire department could be passed off to county fire. Yes that is an option but is it the best option or the only option?

    These questions and many others are coming the way of city staff and I for one am very grateful to Z107.7 for doing this piece of investigative reporting – I love it!

    Thanks Z107.7

    • Govt Ethics Govt Ethics says:

      Steve

      The article is a great piece of reporting and I, too, thank Z107.7.

      The part of the story that speaks volumes is this:

      With regard to the second idea (that the City share some of its revenue with the Water District), she said, “If the City were inclined, there’s a process to transfer a share of its property tax funding, and that’s in the Revenue and Taxation Code, and they can do that.” Ms. Rollings-McDonald cautioned that the cost will be ongoing, and increasing.

      King Richard and the court jesters at City Hall may not be ready to share their pot of gold, but it’s not their decision. It’s the citizens’ choice and the citizens are speaking loud and clear… they want their city to step up to the plate, do the right thing, and help maintain decent fire protection.

      • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

        Hi ETHICS – Points well taken by me however I do not know if city staff is listening because they have not said a word – almost like a church mouse.

        I went digging in my files and here is an excerpt from that 2008 report by the Davis Company:

        “Formation of a JPA is similar to service contracting in that an agreement to form the authority is the process for its creation. A majority of the governing board members of participating agencies is required to join the authority.

        Further, a JPA is, by law, a separate governmental agency and
        must operate under many of the same statutes that govern all other public agencies such as: Brown Act compliance, financing reporting requirements, compliance with CEQA, etc.

        An authority can be created rather quickly upon creation and approval of the joint powers agreement by the parties to it and acceptance of the agreement by the California Secretary of State.”

        Notice that there is no LAFCO in the spelling of JPA and the approving authority is the California Secretary of State and not LAFCO.

        I am looking forward to the positions that city staff will proffer about these various proposals for providing for our own public safety since it seems they already missed the boat when Measure “H” failed.

        City staff should have been on top of this issue on April 18, 2012 the day after the measure failed.

        Here we are eight months later and still not a peep out of city staff – wow!

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