At the outset of its regular meeting of August 6, 2009, the Board of Trustees of Woodland Public Library discussed fundamentally altering the Library’s organizational structure with Elizabeth Kemper, executive staff for the Local Agency Formation Commission of Yolo County (LAFCO, the operative means by which municipal incorporations, annexations, special districts, etc., are originated).

Turbulence arising from recently escalating, municipal budgetary crises has instilled a firm desire to best ensure the library’s future fiscal strength and program stability (as well as: enhancement), among its trustees.

LAFCO is comprised of four elected officials, two county supervisors and two city councilmembers serving on a rotating basis and agreeing upon a fifth (public-sector) member.

At the present time, supervisors Matt Rexroad and Helen Thomson, plus councilmembers from Winters and Davis, serve upon the Yolo LAFCO panel.

Kemper provided the library trustees with a: “Summary of Organization Options,” outlining various transformational avenues for consideration, including annexation of the library into the Yolo County Library District.

However — its trustees were intently focused upon the process by which the Woodland Public Library might itself become a special district.

___  Special District Status  ___

Kemper’s Summary explains that, “the formula used for specific allocation of property tax to a new district is a positive fiscal aspect of formation.”

Special district status would establish funding for the library through allocation of a specific portion of Woodland’s annual property tax revenue, based on a detailed — non-negotiable — formula (similar to municipal incorporation), according to Kemper, who added that:

Being a special district, the library would also be capable of issuing bonds and receiving grants, assessments and development fees, as well as properly retaining and accessing its equity position within the existing Measure E (local capital improvements by sales tax ballot initiative) funding stream.

Kemper advised trustees that the Woodland Public Library’s share of Measure E money — “should be (properly) described” — within the relevant paperwork for this special district formation application process, eventually (if successful) filed through LAFCO with the county clerk.

Basic changes in library operations — as a special district — would be: eventual ballot election of its trustees; virtual independence / insulation from city budgetary affairs due to its assigned, property-tax increment funding stream (as well as, existing and potential supplemental funds); and obtaining legal status for initiating ballot measures on its own behalf.

___  Process for Becoming a Special District  ___

Two application paths lead to triggering LAFCO’s relevant process: a petition by 5% of relevantly registered voters within the previous gubernatorial election — or — a city council resolution.

“After receipt by the Yolo LAFCO the application is processed and analysis is prepared for the Commission,” read Kemper’s Summary. “At a noticed public hearing the Commission receives public input and determines the approval, denial or modification of the proposal. If approved the Commission adopts terms and conditions and sets a conducting authority public hearing to receive written protest [if any].”

At the time of this latter hearing, if between 25% and 50% of relevant landowners or registered voters file written protest, an election will be called by LAFCO. However, if a less than 25% written protest is received — the special district will be lawfully formed without an election.

From the time LAFCO’s process is triggered, it takes about ten months to a year to complete a transition to special district status, related Kemper.

___  Specific Aspects of Fiscal Allocation  ___

Kemper’s Summary provided to the library trustees identifies that:

“As set in Government Code section 56810(a)(2) the Yolo LAFCO will determine the amount of property tax to be exchanged by the affected agency [City of Woodland] to the [proposed] new [library] district. The determination is made by formula outlined in [this section] and calculated by the county auditor. In this process there is no negotiation of property tax shares[.] In addition, the Commission must determine a provisional appropriations limit as required by section 7902.7 and Article XIIIB of the California Constitution.”

___  Special District is Separate Entity  ___

Kemper emphasized to the trustees that as a special district, the library “would be a separate entity,” responsible for various elements of its operative affairs that are presently handled through its being a department within the city.

“You’d need your own reserve and contingency funds,” for example, she explained, “and you’d have your own budget, funding sources,” and other fiscal elements.

Becoming a special district, “eliminates the reliance on the City general fund revenues. On the other hand, the library would then be responsible solely for its own functions without the support of the city,” relates the Summary, which also explains that:

“At the time any election is held for [special district] formation, the question of additional revenue, either through bonds, assessments or other revenue could be included on the ballot.”

Options exist for employee status, described Kemper to the trustees, indicating that library employees could actually remain personnel of the city — through negotiated arrangements. The city remains involved as — technical governing body — for such a library district, temporarily filling trustee vacancies and potentially providing background frameworks / logistics for personnel relations and other relevant matters.

Replying to a question, Kemper stated that the state Public Employees Retirement System (CAL PERS) will fully function in a regular manner within any library personnel format, whether or not affiliated with the city.

Library districts appear to be in an extraordinary class, as there was some uncertainty about origination / selection of district trustees, on the part of Kemper. After momentary review by the trustees president, of pertinent state Education Code provisions, a single reference to both appointment and election was discovered.

Interviewed subsequent to this meeting, the trustees president agreed that the likely process involved — is for the city council to initially appoint the existing board of trustees, within terms of staggered length, having these (newly) elective special district positions included on primary election ballots until all five trustees are duly elected, and making temporary appointments in case of vacancies.

___  Next Step: Lobbying City Council  ___

Trustees were inclined to immediately begin approaching and persuading members of the Woodland City Council regarding its potential adoption of a resolution which would initiate the LAFCO process of special district formation for Woodland Public Library.

This lobbying effort may occur in some sessions of two councilmembers in discussion with two library trustees, suggested Library Services Director, Sandra Briggs.

The library is due to present its annual report to city council at the next council meeting, on September 1.