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Quincy district votes to resume consolidation effort

Dan McDonald
Staff Writer
12/7/2011

The Quincy Community Services District said it’s willing to revive the consolidation effort with the East Quincy Services District — as long as it’s a “good-faith” effort.

At a special meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29, the Quincy district’s board of directors voted 4-0 to resume the talks in whatever form they might take.

“We have a moral responsibility as elected officials to continue this process if we can,” Quincy (QCSD) director Denny Churchill said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The East Quincy (EQSD) board is expected to make a decision at its meeting Wednesday, Dec. 14.

The East Quincy board voted last spring to end the 16-year effort to combine the two districts into the American Valley Community Services District.

The process of killing the consolidation appeared to be in the final stage until a surprise decision by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo).

During a Nov. 14 public hearing, the LAFCo board ordered the service districts’ boards to set aside their differences and resume the consolidation process.

LAFCo set a Jan. 9 deadline for the districts to start a dialogue or risk paying for an election to let the customers decide.

Both district boards said LAFCo doesn’t have the authority to force the consolidation.

“There is some discussion as to what (LAFCo’s) authority truly is,” Churchill said. “And so I don’t feel compelled to put something together and force everybody into meetings so that we can meet their January date.”

East Quincy’s attorney, Robert Zernich, was blunt about it. “LAFCo has no authority over us, or Quincy,” Zernich said during a Nov. 21 board meeting. “They can suggest mediation, but they can’t make you do it. It’s as simple as that.”

The LAFCo directors said mediation might be the best way for the two districts to find common ground.

Quincy’s board said it would be willing to bring in a neutral third party.

“The board votes that we are still open to discussion, negotiation and mediation, if it is done in good faith, for consolidation,” Quincy director Richard Castaldini said in the form of a motion.

Director Ruth Jackson seconded the motion and the board quickly voted to approve it.

The QCSD board said it plans to send a letter outlining its willingness to LAFCo, EQSD and the county’s Board of Supervisors.

“This is a big step compared to how things felt six months ago. This is really encouraging,” said board president Kim Kraul, who planned to retire from the Quincy board at the end of November. “It’s easy for me to say since I won’t be here. But I think if the energy is there to do (consolidation), then let’s give it a shot.”

Now it’s up to the East Quincy board to decide if it wants to move forward.

The EQSD board of directors voted 3-2 to end the consolidation last spring. However, Mike Green unseated director Steve Grant in the Nov. 8 election.

Grant voted against consolidation. Green has stated he’s strongly in favor of consolidation.

Whether Green, who works for the Quincy district, will be able to vote on consolidation is yet to be decided.

The EQSD board is trying to determine if Green’s job with QCSD represents a conflict of interest.

The EQSD board cited Quincy’s aging wastewater treatment plant, which both districts use,   as a major reason for stopping the consolidation.

The EQSD board said its customers would be better served if it built its own treatment plant.

Critics of that plan say the greater Quincy area isn’t big enough for two wastewater treatment plants.

After the election, Green said the plan to build a separate treatment plant would raise the bills for both districts’ customers.

“Because then the people downtown will be footing the bill for the (current) waste treatment facility that was originally built and designed to serve both sides of town.”

 


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