Contra Costa Times Editorial Supports Grand Jury Report On LAFCO

In an editorial published in today's paper, the Contra Costa Times supports the Grand Jury's Report on LAFCO (available here).   The editorial follows:

In 1963, California's projected explosive growth caused the Legislature to create Local Agency Formation Commissions in each county to help coordinate the coming tsunami of both people and governments while protecting agriculture and open space. 

Then, 21 years later, the Legislature wisely added the authority to dissolve or consolidate local governmental districts that had grown outdated or obsolete. Six years after that, lawmakers added the performing of "Municipal Service Reports," a move often portrayed as making LAFCOs the local government watchdog.

But, according to a recently released grand jury report, Contra Costa's LAFCO in the past has more resembled a sleepy hound curled up on the couch than a watchdog.


Grand Jury Issues Report: LAFCO Should Be More Assertive

An extract of the report, available here, follows:

Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) have been in existence since 1963 when the California Legislature created them.  Originally designed to coordinate the timely development of local government agencies and their services while protecting agricultural and open-space resources, their duties were expanded in 1994 to encompass the authority to initiate proposals that include the dissolution or consolidation of special districts or the merging of existing subsidiary districts. In 2000, the responsibility to perform Municipal Services Reviews (MSRs) focused on municipal services was added.  Portrayed by some as the “watchdog” of local governmental agencies, LAFCOs have broad authority which includes developing and determining Spheres of Influence (SOIs), and examining governance, fiscal accountability and sustainability, operational efficiency and effectiveness, and service delivery.


Grand Jury Issues Report: Cities Should Consider Outsourcing

An excerpt of the report, available here, follows:

Difficult economic conditions present significant constraints on revenue available for city operations at a time when there continues to be a strong need for services in many communities. Continuation of traditional methods for balancing revenue available for the cost of those services required may no longer be acceptable. City officials should begin to challenge the operational status quo and explore any and all alternative approaches, such as outsourcing, that present opportunities for reducing costs without jeopardizing the quality and scope of services provided.