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FPUD resubmits consolidation application to LAFCO


Thursday, June 12th, 2014
Issue 24, Volume 18.
Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent
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The Fallbrook Public Utility District’s original application to San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for the merger of FPUD and the Rainbow Municipal Water District was approved at a special meeting four days after Rainbow provided FPUD with a 30-day notice to terminate the joint powers agency involving the two water districts. FPUD was accused of not having properly noticed the meeting, so a second vote was taken after sufficient public notice.

FPUD’s April 28 vote to resubmit the consolidation application to LAFCO resulted in passage by a 3-1 margin. Milt Davies, Al Gebhart, and Don McDougal voted in favor of the merger application; Archie McPhee opposed the application submission, and Bert Hayden was absent.

FPUD originally approved the application at a March 10 special meeting on a 4-0 vote with McPhee absent. "There was a question of whether public notice was required under certain sections of law and our attorney had originally told us that wasn’t required," said FPUD general manager Brian Brady.

Once the notice issue was challenged, FPUD opted for another vote at a regular meeting. "It would take that question off the table," Brady said.

The North County Joint Powers Authority was created in February 2013 as a transitional structure to test the possibility of consolidating the Fallbrook and Rainbow districts, and the first JPA meeting was held on March 6, 2013. The functional consolidation allowed for the experience of combining tasks among the two districts while also creating the possibility that the districts could experience cost savings due to such sharing without governance consolidation.

The joint powers agreement also included an employee leasing agreement which allowed FPUD and Rainbow to share employees, and the functional consolidation saved more than $1 million during the agreement’s first 11 months of existence.

In November, the FPUD and Rainbow boards voted to begin the process of applying to LAFCO for an actual jurisdictional consolidation, but the boards of the two districts could not agree on the governance structure for the successor district. Each district currently has a five-member board, but FPUD elects its directors by seat with the entire district voting for each seat while Rainbow elects its directors by division with only voters in that division participating in that election.

The FPUD board initially proposed that the board members of the consolidated agency all be elected at large. At the February 5 North County JPA meeting, FPUD’s representatives on the JPA board (which consisted of three FPUD board members, three Rainbow board members, and an at-large member chosen by the rest of the board) put forth a compromise proposal in which four directors would be elected by division and three directors would be elected at large. Such a format would provide board representation for residents of each of the four divisions while also ensuring that a majority of the board would be accountable to all of the district’s residents. Rainbow’s board members rejected that proposal.

The joint powers agreement allowed for a termination provision after one year, and at a Rainbow special board meeting March 5, the board voted 4-1 with Dennis Sanford in opposition to terminate the joint powers agreement with FPUD. Rainbow board president George McManigle delivered the 30-day notice of termination to FPUD on March 6, dissolving the JPA as of April 5. The FPUD board responded by pursuing the merger unilaterally and scheduling the special meeting on the Monday after the Thursday the district received the 30-day termination notice.

The application calls for the dissolution of the Rainbow Municipal Water District, the annexation of the Rainbow territory into FPUD, the expansion of FPUD’s latent sewer service powers into the Rainbow territory, the expansion of FPUD’s sphere of influence to include the Rainbow area, and a zero sphere of influence for Rainbow.

LAFCO is responsible for handling jurisdictional boundary changes including annexations, consolidations, detachments, dissolutions, and city incorporations. Updates to both the municipal service review which evaluates services and anticipated needs and to the sphere of influence which determines boundaries best served by a particular agency are prerequisites to any boundary change including an annexation or consolidation. LAFCO may approve the municipal service review, the sphere of influence update, and the boundary change at the same meeting.

LAFCO has an eight-member board consisting of two county supervisors (currently Bill Horn and Diane Jacob), one San Diego City Council member (currently Lorie Zapf), two city council members from the county’s other 17 incorporated cities (currently Sam Abed of Escondido and Jim Janney of Imperial Beach), two special district board members (currently John Ingalls of the Santa Fe Irrigation District and Bud Pocklington of the South Bay Irrigation District), and one public member (currently Rainbow Municipal Water District resident Andy Vanderlaan).

Although the support of both agencies would not be required for LAFCO to process the consolidation request, input from the Rainbow board as well as input from Rainbow residents during the public hearing on the merger recommendation would be part of the process.

Once Rainbow receives official notice from LAFCO, the district has 30 days to respond. Rainbow placed a potential response to the application on the agenda of the district’s May 2 special meeting, although due to the lack of new information the Rainbow board did not take any vote.

An April 7 Rainbow special board meeting to address the response created an ad hoc committee consisting of Sanford and Helene Brazier, who have been working on a potential document in opposition to the merger. LAFCO had not provided the official notice of the resubmitted application by Rainbow’s May 27 regular board meeting, so Rainbow’s agenda items of a potential response became non-voting discussion items due to the lack of new information.

If the LAFCO board approves the merger, sufficient petition signatures from residents of either district would trigger a public vote although the election would be for the two districts combined and the merger thus could be approved even if a majority vote from one of the districts opposes the merger.


 

6 comments

Comment Profile ImageRMWD ratepayer
Comment #1 | Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm
The purpose of news is to inform the public. It is no wonder that the public is confused when those who cover issues for publication are ill informed or uninformed, or perhaps also confused.

FPUD did NOT resubmit an application for consolidation. They resubmitted an application for reorganization. There's a world of difference between the two. The first is a partnership, the second is a takeover.

The draft consolidation application was never approved for submission and died with the end of the NCJPA. If you believe in magic, the reorganization document sprang up fully written in the one day between Thursday, March 6 - the date the withdrawal document was presented to FPUD - and Friday, March 7, the day the document appeared on FPUD's web site in the notice of the Monday, March 10 special meeting.

RESOLUTION NO. 4815 appears on FPUD's web site and DOES NOT request consolidation.
Comment Profile ImageOmen
Comment #2 | Friday, Jun 13, 2014 at 1:26 pm
SHADY BY FPUD GENERAL MANAGER IF YOU ASK ME.... WHEN THIS 2ND APPLICATION FOR A HOSTILE TAKE OVER OR WHATEVER THEY WANT TO CALL IT WASNT HE STILL EMPLOYED AS A GM FOR RAINBOW AND FPUD ? Totally Against What The Rainbow Board Voted Out Of.
Comment Profile ImageJoe Naiman
Comment #3 | Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 at 9:08 am
RMWD Ratepayer has the right to claim that my writing is deficient, but since the grounds for his or her claim is that I used the word "consolidation" instead of "reorganization", it should be noted that I used "consolidation" to avoid confusion rather than because I was confused.

Officially a merger, whether mutually voluntary or only supported by one agency, is a reorganization. A school unification where a K-8 elementary school district becomes a K-12 district and that territory is removed from the high school district, is also officially a reorganization. This month's LAFCO hearing on the Rainbow Municipal Water District municipal service review and sphere of influence update included discussion about removing sewer latent powers from the water district and creating a community services district; that would also be a reorganization. The use of "consolidation" differentiates a merger from a boundary or activity transfer.

RMWD Ratepayer can continue to complain about my writing, but I will continue to choose clarity over legalese.
Comment Profile ImageRMWD ratepayer
Comment #4 | Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 at 4:05 pm
VILLAGE NEWS COMMENT - Dear RMWD ratepayer or Old Timer (whichever moniker you are using this moment), I will not approve your comments which are obviously intended to bring the Village News into your (Rainbow Water) dispute against FPUD. The Village News does not have an agenda in this matter and we will not allow you to try and convince anyone it does. The same would apply if the case were the opposite.

While you may not appreciate Joe Naiman's writing style, I do. I have been in the newspaper business for over 30 years - large dailies and community and Joe is by far the most knowledgeable and accurate writer I have ever worked with on water and government agency reporting. I stand behind him on this. We won't play games with you over it.

Thank you, Debbie Ramsey, Editor
Comment Profile ImageRMWD ratepayer
Comment #5 | Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm
Debbie Ramsey-

Dear Editor,

There was no attempt on my part to bring The Village News into the 'dispute" as you call it, or to attribute any agenda to the paper. Since there has been no editorial comment on the matter, I assume that the paper is maintaining a position of neutrality. Nothing in the comments you did not approve states or implies anything to the contrary.

An attempted dialog with a writer about the accurate use of language (not writing style!) is not a statement about the newspaper or its editorial stance. That is not game playing.

What is clear from your response to my submission is that no comments critical of Mr. Naiman's writings will be accepted. Undoubtedly, no response to your comments will be, either.
Comment Profile ImageWater User
Comment #6 | Monday, Jun 16, 2014 at 10:58 am
Please provide information as to the timetable for LAFCO meetings and public review period. We cannot react effectively as consumers without this vital information. Waiting with baited breath... Thank you.

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