Special District Groups Submit Response to OC Grand Jury Report

The California Special Districts Association, in coordination with ACWA and other special district groups, has submitted a formal response to a recent Orange County Grand Jury report that called for special districts in the county to be absorbed by other agencies, consolidated or privatized.

In a response letter sent May 18, the organizations voiced concern with several claims and conclusions in the report. They also sought to clarify inaccuracies and counter several assertions that appeared to be based on one-sided information.

The April 29 grand jury report, “Let There Be Light: Dragging Special Districts from the Shadows,” recommended that water and sewer districts in the county be consolidated into six regional districts and have their property tax funding eliminated. It also criticized special districts for amassing unrestricted reserves and recommends that each district be required to contribute 1% of its unrestricted reserve fund to the Local Agency Formation Commission to help facilitate consolidations or elimination of special districts.

In a cover letter submitted with the response from seven organizations representing special districts, CSDA Executive Director Neil McCormick encouraged the grand jury to take a more thoughtful, case-by-case approach that takes into account the local needs, desires and circumstances of the community.

“While we truly respect the good work of grand juries throughout the State and certainly don’t take issue with there being a review of a special district or segment of special districts, we do have significant concerns with this particular report,” McCormick wrote.

“Specifically, we believe the recently completed report lacks objectivity from the beginning, as indicated in the title, and throughout. Moreover, we feel it is overly broad and relies upon opinions in place of sound analysis, leading one to believe that some of its conclusions may have been preconceived notions,” the letter said.

Signing on to the joint response were CSDA, ACWA, the California Association of Public Cemetaries, the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts, the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, the Fire Districts Association of California and the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California.

The Orange County Local Agency Formation Comission (LAFCO) also submitted a response disagreeing with several of the grand jury's conclusions.

FINAL response to Orange County Grand Jury report 5.18.12.pdf88.28 KB
FINAL OC Grand Jury Letter 5.18.12.pdf811.73 KB
LAFCO - FINAL_2012 GrandJuryResponse_Signed.pdf177.85 KB