By Victoria Metcalf
Plumas County schools and special districts set to receive allocations of Tax Neutrality Funds get to determine how they will use it.
Plumas County Supervisors voted Jan. 12 to allow those entities to make their own decisions when it comes to funding in lieu of taxes.
“The county and the Stewardship Council recently came to an agreement regarding the transfer of former PG&E lands to the Maidu Consortium via the Stewardship Council,” County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick explained to supervisors.
This funding totals nearly $915,000.
The lion’s share comes from the Humbug area for $466,943, and the smallest payment is from the Lake Almanor Maidu Trail for $10,900. Other areas covered include the Lake Almanor Maidu Forest fund for $31,901, the Maidu Wetlands for $100,298 and the Maidu Cemetery for more than $313,000. Two of the payments from the wetlands and the cemetery have not been received by Plumas County, according to Hydrick.
“These agreements include lump sum payments meant to replace future property taxes that the county, school and special districts receive,” Hydrick explained. They are based, in part, “on an assumed four percent discount value.”
Plumas County will receive $253,681 or 27.72 percent of the funding. Plumas Unified School District is scheduled to receive $449,051 or 49.09 percent, and with Feather River College set to receive $117,284 or 12.82 percent.
The remainder of the funds is divided among other property tax entities, Hydrick said.
Further explaining the options, one is to distribute the one-time funding in its entirety to schools and special districts, Hydrick explained. This is also the option he recommended.
Under this plan, those receiving the in-lieu of funding would make their own decisions on how to use it.
Or, in a second option the county could hold the funds in trust and invest and distribute it as future income. This option would put the lump sum in an investment account earning about 4 percent of return. This is about equal to the property taxes generated. That income, minus the original investment, would be distributed as if it was property taxes.
The second option would require a resolution from supervisors.
“Both options will necessitate the assistance of county counsel’s office to provide the appropriate Acceptance Agreement and Release forms to be signed by each special district,” Hydrick explained.
With supervisors voting unanimously to allow special districts to make their own decisions on the one-time funding, Hydrick then asked what supervisors would like to do with the county’s share.
Hydrick said the county’s share of the funds at nearly $254,000, this is “a good time to take a swipe at the gorilla in the room,” and put it toward pension liability called PARS.
Under the Public Agency Retirement Services or PARS, “This pension liability is the county’s single greatest liability and a topic of the 2020 Civil Grand Jury,” Hydrick explained.
The funds would help buy down the county’s liability, Hydrick said, and keep Plumas County in better financial health.