Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Special Districts - more information

The issue of forming a CSD, or Community Services District, came up at Saturday's community meeting on forming a Paid Call Firefighter program.

Wonder Valley is an unincorporated area under the governance of the County of San Bernardino, and 3rd District Supervisor James Ramos, in particular. The advisory council for Wonder Valley, and the eight other unincorporated communities in Morongo Basin is The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council, or the MAC. Your MAC representative is me, Teresa Sitz. This is a voluntary position. I filled out an application and was appointed.

Wonder Valley also has a few special districts. We are a CSA - County Service Area 70M for three different services: roads and parks and television. We are also FP 4, or Fire Protection area 4 and that was created for our assessment of $34.10. Right now our property tax and FP 4 assessment are not covering the costs of our fire and emergency services which is why we're working with the County to find a solution. The agency that administers our CSA and disburses the funds is San Bernardino Special Districts. We invited them to visit us and report at the July 2015 Community Meeting. At that time they presented us with the budgets for the roads and parks.

A CSD is a Community Service District. Various people in the community have suggested we look into forming a CSD for fire and emergency services as this would give us direct control, through a five member local board. Morongo Valley has a CSD for their fire and emergency services. Donna Munoz and Gayl Swarat are on that board. Gayl Swarat is also the MAC rep for Morongo Valley.

All local forms of government are formed through LAFCO - Local Agency Formation Commission. They make sure everything is put together correctly and also audit the CSDs to make sure moneys are being spent properly and that CSDs have enough revenue to continue working successfully.

I'm looking in to putting together a meeting about CSDs. In the meantime I found this online booklet at LAFCO about CSDs. It's highly skim-able though I suggest reading the whole thing to get a better sense of what this is all about. Wonder Valley will need many fully informed community members to ask important questions and to help those who don't have the time to do the research, due to work and family demands and other demands on their time, to  better understand what we are facing.

What’s So Special About Special Districts? (Fourth Edition)
Senate Local Government Committee, October 2010

If you're short on time, skip to:

page 13 - advantages and disadvantages of special districts
page 14 - how to form a special district

Check out LAFCO's Publications for more information on special districts and other topics.

By the way, if you've taken the time to read through this I want to tell you how much I appreciate your efforts. I admire the independent spirit of the people in Wonder Valley and understanding how our local government works is an important step in preserving that spirit. Thank you.

Teresa Sitz
MAC Delegate
Wonder Valley