The Lake County Board of Supervisors is proposing to ask for a new sales tax to fund lakebed management services like weed and algae abatement and quagga mussel prevention. There will be a separate Board of Supervisors hearing on the sales tax proposal on Wednesday, July 18, at 8 a.m.
There is no question that these services – like fire and police protection – are needed. And, because our tourism revenues have been hard hit in recent years, there is no question that new funding sources must be found.
Simultaneously, however, the Board of Supervisors will be considering a request to exempt from public oversight the organization that provides lakebed management – the Lake County Watershed Protection District.
Public oversight of special service districts (other than schools) is the job of a little known but very powerful body called the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).
Comprised of elected officials from the county, the cities, and independent special districts, it is LAFCO’s responsibility to provide guidance for efficient delivery of special district services.
LAFCO uses a process called a “municipal service review” to periodically assess the needs of special districts (and cities) to make sure they have the ability to provide services. A LAFCO review of the Watershed Protection District would, most likely, clarify the need for new funding to take care of our lakes.
However, the Watershed Protection District – run by the Board of Supervisors as District Board of Directors – apparently views the public oversight process as unnecessarily burdensome, and LAFCO has offered to let the district off the hook.
Rather than relinquish responsibility for public review of Watershed Protection District practices, LAFCO members should redouble their efforts – in these tough economic times – to ensure that district services are effective and manageable.
Ask your county supervisor to protect our public funding investments by voting no on exempting the Watershed Protection District from LAFCO oversight, on Tuesday, July 17.
Betsy Cawn lives in Upper Lake, Calif.071712 Board of Supervisiors - Watershed Protection District-LAFCO