County growing at city’s expense |

County growing at city’s expense

Robert Stern

South Lake Tahoe hasn’t grown much in the past decade, but it still must contribute more than $55,000 to an agency directing growth in El Dorado County.

That doesn’t strike the city as fair, so it’s turning to state representatives for help.

“There is no new development we do,” said Councilman Tom Davis, the city’s representative on the Local Agency Formation Commission. “It’s all redevelopment.”

LAFCO was formed in 1963 to improve coordination of planning and services among local government agencies. Each county has a separate commission.

But it isn’t LAFCO but the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that oversees growth in the Tahoe Basin. City officials argue that most county growth occurs in El Dorado Hills, east of Sacramento.

“It’s rare that the TRPA and LAFCO cross paths,” said Pam Drum, spokeswoman for the TRPA.

While South Lake Tahoe’s population grew just 9.3 percent between 1990 and 2000, El Dorado County grew 24.1 percent in the same time, according to U.S. Census figures.

“We’re essentially a zero-growth community, so a lot of issues that are hot potatoes for the West Slope are non-issues here,” said Dennis Cocking, spokesman for the South Tahoe Public Utility District, which serves the California side of the Tahoe Basin.

El Dorado County used to fund LAFCO in whole, but under new legislation the budget is split three ways between the county, its two incorporated cities and its special districts. Placerville is responsible for $21,197; of 53 special districts, El Dorado Irrigation District pays the most with $38,696.

But city officials say they’re shouldering a disproportionate share. The city – with an annual budget of $18 million – is required to pay $56,197 annually, while El Dorado County pays $78,135 on a budget of $181 million.

City Manager Dave Childs sent letters to state Sen. Rico Oller and Assemblyman Tim Leslie asking for relief. Childs is hoping for legislation to either give the city an exemption from the LAFCO contribution or to distribute the cost more fairly.

Jedd Medefind, Leslie’s chief of staff, said it is unlikely the assemblyman will interfere directly with the EL Dorado County LAFCO.

“We want to make sure all the local entities have their genuine, legitimate concerns addressed, but beyond that it is not our role to dictate the terms of the agreements,” Medefind said.

Nancy Lungren, field representative for Oller, said, “Senator Oller has not had an opportunity to look into the issue of the city of South Lake Tahoe’s dispute regarding its share of El Dorado county’s LAFCO, but he may offer some assistance with resolving it.”

Roseanne Chamberlain, executive officer for the El Dorado County LAFCO, said South Lake Tahoe is not the only jurisdiction to decide the funding formula needs to be changed.

“In many other counties, not just El Dorado County, there are unfair or disproportionate cost allocations because of the way the budget is split up,” Chamberlain said.

In some counties, local governments have compromised. Orange and San Bernardino counties have changed the contributions from special districts.

In Butte County, north of Sacramento, special districts contribute a total of 10 percent, and the county and cities each pay 45 percent, said Paula Leasure, executive officer for the Butte County LAFCO.

“It was a fairness issue,” Leasure said. “Special districts have very small budgets in our county and for them to pick up a third would just be catastrophic.”

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