State bill could cost city of South Lake Tahoe $51,000 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

State bill could cost city of South Lake Tahoe $51,000

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

South Lake Tahoe has now weighed in on a bill sponsored by California Sen. Rico Oller, R-San Andreas, that may force the town to foot part of the bill to make El Dorado Hills a city.

SB 282 essentially intends to facilitate incorporation by eliminating perceived roadblocks in the form of environmental studies, fiscal reviews and associated fees that the El Dorado Local Agency Formation Commission — a group responsible for city formation in the county– has placed before the West Slope area residents.

El Dorado LAFCO opposes the bill introduced last month.

At issue is who will or should pay for the studies, legal counsel and financial analyses LAFCO states are necessary to complete the process that started seven years ago.

LAFCO spokeswoman Roseanne Chamberlain contends it needs precise, up-to-date data to calculate property-tax assessments.

“LAFCO is undecided whether El Dorado Hills could be a feasible city without the current accurate data,” Chamberlain said, adding her concern the bill, if passed, may establish a dangerous precedent for LAFCO agencies.

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“Somebody has to pay to pick up the cost. This bill just kills the agencies that fund LAFCO,” she said.

LAFCO figured South Lake Tahoe’s portion would amount to $51,000, a doubling of fees incurred in its cost-sharing agreement of LAFCO’s approximately $300,000 annual budget. This projected, extra expense comes at a time of budget shortfalls and the threat of more state funding cutbacks for the city.

“I’m outraged by this bill. What value is it to our taxpayers?” City Councilman Tom Davis said Thursday.

Davis, who advocates the incorporation, now serves as the El Dorado LAFCO chairman.

The El Dorado Hills Incorporation Committee Chairman Norm Rowett said the proponents were overcharged for LAFCO services and wants relief.

Rowett made his appeal by assuring that if the growing area turns into a city, it will then share the expense along with South Lake Tahoe and Placerville.

Changes made to incorporation law, highlighted in the Cortese-Know-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, shifts the funding responsibility to cities within the county LAFCO jurisdiction. This includes Placerville, which LAFCO noted would have to pay $26,000.

The El Dorado Hills incorporation proponents and Oller’s legislative aids disagree, calling LAFCO’s assertion “a scare tactic.”

Oller’s Legislative Analyst Tom Hudson insisted LAFCO should use the $264,000 it already collects to pay for the effort.

“This agency is out of control. This is a county with only two cities, and yet LAFCO gets a quarter of a million dollars,” Hudson said.

The proposed legislation reads that the regional LAFCO “shall require no additional funding from the incorporating petitioners to finalize or otherwise satisfy all costs and expenses involved in processing the application for incorporation.”

Oller’s camp and the incorporation proponents believe the two existing studies should meet the application requirement.

“They’ve thrown up road block after road block for El Dorado Hills. The senator has made the observation that if El Dorado LAFCO had been together 150 years ago, absolutely no city would be formed,” Oller’s Communications Director Bill Bird said.

-Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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