During a special meeting on Monday morning, directors of the Rough and Ready Fire District voted unanimously to start the dissolution process of the district.
The resolution includes the following actions:
- The district will continue discussions with neighboring Penn Valley and Nevada County consolidation Fire Districts to ensure coverage of the territory will continue following dissolution and subsequent reorganization.
- The district will continue to cooperate with Penn Valley Fire Protection District to ensure an orderly transition during this period.
- The district will cooperate with LAFCo to ensure the affected residents and property owners are kept informed throughout the process of dissolution and subsequent reorganization.
- Such other provisions as required by applicable law or as implemented by the district and or Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo.)
SR Jones, Executive Director of Nevada County LAFCo, explained the process at the request of Director Doug Wittler, “This is a resolution that would initiate a long and structured process. And this begins the process of LAFCo considering this proposal for dissolution and there’s still several balls up in the air. So we understand that there will be continued discussions between Rough and Ready, Penn Valley and the County Supervisor to identify reorganizational options and additional funding sources. But I want to stress that this is not a dissolution right now. This is applying to LAFCo for a dissolution. And once that process starts at LAFCo, there will be an analysis of the proposal. We’ll be looking at funding options. The Commission will then hold a public hearing. The public will be invited. There will be lots of advertisement of that public hearing. So no action is going to take place until that time, until such time as LAFCo acts on this proposal. And before LAFCo acts, we would expect some additional information to come forward in a more robust plan, if you will. Plan and schedule for the future. So it’s not going to happen just yet. This is the beginning of a process of trying to ensure that this area can have coverage after the dissolution.”
Board President Sheridan Loungway wanted to know if the dissolution was precedent-setting.
Jones replied, “It’s not in writing yet. We know the process, but as I said, there’s still some balls up in the air in terms of partnerships with your neighbors. We want to make sure those discussions have an opportunity to play out. But the process is the district would, as you are considering today, would initiate an application to LAFCo for dissolution, and then LAFCo would make a determination on that request. Then there is a 30-day period following that action for protest or reconsideration requests. And then, if there is a sufficient number of protests, then there may have to be an election within the territory. But that protest threshold is 25% of the voters or 25% of the property owners who happen to own 25% of the property. So we have to let that period, a 30-day period for that to go by. And if the protest is not sufficient to trigger an election, then that would be done. The Commission is going to be focused on service, and it is going to want to see a plan in place that’s going to either assure that there is going to be coverage or at least a plan for winding down the liabilities of the district, failing a plan to provide service. But we’re hoping very much that a coverage plan will come forward.”
Directors announced that next week the district will brown out one additional shift, but at the same time they will continue to work with neighboring districts to keep the district covered.
The resolution includes an amendment to use the remaining funding to pay off the loan on the fire station. The directors are determined to keep the station available for a future annexation.
Jones recognized the action taken by the directors: “This is this is a significant action that you’re preparing to take. I want to recognize that and recognize your courage in taking a straight look at this situation.”
LAFCo’s board will likely hear the application in May, complete with a plan to provide coverage to the 700 parcels.
The Rough and Ready District will hold another townhall in April to apprise their residents of the progress. LAFCo will send mailers to all parcel owners to inform them of the process.
In the meantime, Penn Valley, Grass Valley and Nevada County Consolidated fire districts will cover calls during the brown out shifts.