Supervisor wants to clarify stance on LAFCo fee issue

Dan McDonald
Managing Editor


Supervisor Jon Kennedy said any change to the LAFCo fee structure in Plumas County is a matter for the county and the city of Portola to decide together.

“This is a non-issue turned into an issue in order to drive a wedge between the city and the county,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s comments were in response to a Feather Publishing story last week. He said a quote attributed to him might have left readers with the impression that he felt the real issue is to figure out how to have the county’s special districts pay a share of the fee.

He said that is not the case.

He also reiterated the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) has nothing to do with deciding who pays the county’s $100,000 LAFCo fee. Currently, the city and county each pay half the bill.

County activist Trent Saxton said the 50-50 split isn’t fair to Portola residents, and that the fee should be spread proportionately among the county population.

With approval from the Portola City Council, Saxton went before the LAFCo board Feb. 10 in an attempt to change the fee structure.

The LAFCo board told Saxton and Portola Mayor Phil Oels that its hands were tied.

“It’s not our call,” LAFCo Executive Director John Benoit said. “It may not be the fairest thing in the world, but it is the law and the law is not always fair.”

Kennedy said he felt Saxton was trying to cause problems instead of helping to fix them.

“If the city and county want to change how the costs are distributed, that’s up to the city and county, not LAFCo,” Kennedy said.

According to state law, cities and a county split the LAFCo fee. The cities combined pay 50 percent and the county pays 50 percent.

In a county with many cities, those cities each pay a share of the 50 percent. In Plumas County, Portola is the only incorporated city. Therefore, Portola pays the entire 50 percent. The law does allow for a county to change a percentage of the fee a city pays.

“The only way to make it more fair for counties like Plumas would be to change legislation at the state level to include special districts,” Kennedy added. “However, that type of legislation may cause trouble for special districts. For now, it is what it is.

“It’s not about being fair or unfair, as a few are claiming, it’s about working together as a whole community — including schools, hospitals, special districts, the county and the city of Portola.

“Most citizens understand and realize the importance of this. It’s just too bad a handful would rather cause problems than be a part of the solution.”

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