‘Of Paramount Importance’

by Mark Scaramella, August 26, 2009

 

Improbable as it sounds, yes,

The state has made it official – it's “borrowing” 8% of our Community Services District’s property tax money.

District General Manager Serina Wallace estimates that Sacramento's long distance reach into Anderson Valley's threadbare pockets represents about $15,000 for 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.

However, Fire Chief Colin Wilson told the Board that the “borrowing” will be offset by unanticipated revenues from strike team reimbursements for local firefighters and equipment dispatched to Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz fires in recent weeks.

Chief Wilson and a small crew of senior volunteers continue to work on obtaining a fancy new fire engine for Yorkville. Wilson and crew have been quietly working on the specs for months without formal approval from the Board, although Wilson has made it clear in his reports to the Board that he has wanted to buy a new Yorkville engine for some time.

The new engine is expected to cost upwards of $300,000. Wilson expects it to be funded by a combination of Yorkville Community Association funds, Volunteer Firefighter Association donations and funds, and the rather substantial reserves Wilson has accumulated over the last few years, made flush by the money the State, just before it tanked, gave the District for our impressive response to the Lightning Fires in June of 2008.

Chief Wilson says Yorkville needs a new engine because buying new is the only way to make sure the Department gets exactly what it wants. The Chief gets a little testy whenever the possibility alternative of a used fire engine is raised, not that anyone on the Board has expressed reservations about buying the new engine.

The District is proceeding with a new fire station in Rancho Navarro near the Community Center on land donated by the Rancho Navarro Road Association. The District has agreed to fund and organize the construction and a $1 a year lease agreement has been signed with the Rancho.

All of this heavy investment, along with 5% raises for general manager Wallace and district secretary Joanie Clark, is spelled out in Chief Wilson’s and Ms. Wallace's approved 2009/2010 Budgets.

At the urging of General Manager Wallace, the Board unanimously decided to schedule a special meeting to discuss the preparation of a mission statement. The meeting is tentatively set for early November. Such a statement is apparently necessary because few Valley residents know what the Community Services District is and what it does, although it is what it is and it does what it does, so to speak.

Ms. Wallace told the Board that she would like the statement to answer questions from community members about what the District's responsibilities do and don't include and to perhaps address police protection, water and sewer responsibilities, recreational activities, the extent of involvement in traffic and downtown improvement and grant submissions, and broadband wireless coverage in the Valley.

Several dozen benefit assessment changes, all of them minor, were proposed by General Manager Wallace for both residential and commercial properties in the Valley.

The residential changes will increase total benefit assessment revenues by about $500 from last year. (The benefit assessment, aka parcel tax, raises about $135k per year these days, separate from property tax.) Commercial changes amount to about the same increase. All but one of the commercial changes are increases associated with new tasting rooms and wineries – Bill Charles in Boonville, Fred Buonanno of Philo, Husch Vineyards in Philo, Heritage Wine in Philo, Roederer Estates in Philo and Jim Ball/Anderson Valley Vineyards in Philo.

Somehow a new home in Boonville owned by Joe Zicherman also ended up on the “commercial changes” list. Steve Ledson’s still unoccupied cottage on Farrer Lane, Boonville, the little house Ledson moved the access road so he could build it, is on the “New Home” list; Ledson's benefit assessment is going from $180 a year for the parcel to $216 as his jogged and jiggered easement continues to be contested.

Several parcels from last year’s assessment list have disappeared from the County’s parcel list, probably due to ownership changes, boundary line adjustments, or errors or simple confusion. The Assessor’s office is looking into the disappearances.

At the urging of Director Kirk Wilder the Board voted unanimously to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors expressing the District’s opinion that funding for local resident deputies is “of paramount importance.” The letter goes out this week.

Although the local Community Action Coalition expressed some interest in asking the CSD Board to participate in efforts to at least partially fund the resident deputies in the Valley, no one from the Coalition showed up at the meeting. The board members said they might be receptive to locally funding a resident deputy position but someone from the community would have to take the initiative. All four directors agreed that funding of the resident deputies should come out of supervisor and management salaries rather than other departments.

The Anderson Valley Community Services District board will have a vacant position as of December, 2009 when outgoing Director Linda Klein’s term is up. Persons interested in being appointed to the two-year position should contact the district at 895-2075.

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