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GLRID ready to make the switch to CSD

Diana Jorgenson
Staff Writer

Grizzly Lake Resort Improvement District (GLRID) has been talking about making the conversion to a community services district for many years. The local agency formation commission (LAFCO) process was lengthy and costly and, while GLRID made halting attempts at pursuing the conversion, the district shied at the cost.

On Jan. 1, a new law allowing a simplified conversion process went into effect and GLRID is ready.

"It seems cut and dried," said GLRID Chairman Maurice Willis, referring to the LAFCO process described by Plumas County Executive Officer Jon Benoit.

Benoit noted that, in his review of the law, it called for a new LAFCO procedure called an expedited reorganization and that many standard procedures were not applicable.

The expedited conversions are aimed directly at seven remaining resort improvement districts (RIDs) dating from the '60s, and five archaic municipal improvement districts (MIDs) dating from the '50s, throughout the state.

The discontinued districts were left behind in current lawmaking, which sometimes made their status unclear, and were unable to take on new projects subsequent to their original charters. RIDs and MIDs were frequently unable to secure grants and other funding, and often had to operate under the auspices of other governing boards, such as a board of supervisors or, in the case of MIDs, a city council.

In GLRID's case, its district status has prevented it from implementing and managing the community park around Delleker Pond. GLRID first tried to find an organization willing to take on management of the park project, and eventually had to rely on the county to be lead agency for an Americans with Disabilities Act improvement grant.

Most of the 12 special districts in California impacted by the streamlined legislative process will likely become community service districts in a conversion that will leave their assets, organization, boundaries, duties and fee schedules intact. Tahoe Paradise RID received special dispensation to convert to a recreation and park district.

The 12 districts have until Jan. 1, 2018, to take advantage of the group conversion. After this date, the law dissolves.

Benoit indicated to the district that the value of the work involved was similar to LAFCO's district dissolution fee of $4,000, and that the district might even receive a refund.

Why wait? At a special meeting in mid-December, GLRID board members voted unanimously to have their attorney draft a resolution to request that LAFCO begin proceedings.

"We'll be the first ones to do it," said Chairman Willis. "It's new to Jon Benoit; it's new to everyone."

He asked Supervisor Terry Swofford, who was in attendance, how the county felt about GLRID's conversion.

Swofford replied, "We're in favor of it."

Willis joked, "How does the county feel about loaning us $4,000?"

Swofford joked in return, "We're not in favor of loaning money."

He continued, "It will resolve a lot of problems. You'll be able to take care of your park."

There was some discussion of a name for the new community services district. Willis said that Benoit had advised that keeping the name the same would keep the process simple, but advised the board that if they wanted to change the name to "Delleker" or "Crocker Mountain" or "Eastern Plumas" (to match the fire district), now was the time to consider it.

Several board members thought that a name change might confuse people and the consensus was to retain "Grizzly Lake" in the conversion.

"Where's Grizzly Lake?" asked Operations Manager Randy Mark.

"We don't know," board member Sharon Castaneda admitted.

"It should have been Grizzly Pond, but it's Grizzly Lake instead," offered Willis.

The board directed Secretary Julita Thompson to engage the district's attorney in writing the necessary resolution for the Jan. 12 meeting.

The board also changed the regular meeting times for the special district to twice per month, the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.

At the same meeting, board members also restructured their work force, making the general manager position administrative only, and appointing Thompson to that combined general manager/secretary position for a trial period of three months.

More reorganization is in sight. Randy Mark, currently chief operator, is slated to become operations manager in the near future. Jared Recasens, who has been an operator in training, completed that training and is now a licensed operator. When he vacates the maintenance worker position, it will remain unfilled until the district's financial situation is more stable.

Thompson said that the reorganization was implemented to save the district money.

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