The Rainbow Municipal Water District has formed an ad hoc committee which will develop a response to the proposed consolidation of Rainbow with the Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD).
A 5-0 vote at Rainbow’s April 7 special board meeting placed board members Dennis Sanford and Helene Brazier on the ad hoc committee. Sanford and Brazier will work with Rainbow staff and legal counsel to develop a proposed Rainbow response for consideration at the district’s April 22 regular board meeting.
The North County Joint Powers Authority (JPA) was created in February 2013 as a transitional structure to test the possibility of consolidating the Fallbrook and Rainbow districts. The joint powers agreement also included an employee leasing agreement which allowed FPUD and Rainbow to share employees, and the functional consolidation saved more than $1 million during the agreement’s first 11 months of existence.
In November, the FPUD and Rainbow boards voted to begin the process of applying to San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for an actual jurisdictional consolidation, but the district boards could not agree on the governance structure for the successor district. Each district currently has a five-member board; FPUD elects its directors by seat with the entire district voting for each seat while Rainbow elects its directors by division with only voters in that division participating in that election.
The FPUD board initially proposed that the board members of the consolidated agency all be elected at large. At the Feb. 5 North County JPA meeting, FPUD’s representatives on the JPA board (which consisted of three FPUD board members, three Rainbow board members, and an at-large member chosen by the rest of the board) put forth a compromise proposal in which four directors would be elected by division and three directors would be elected at large. Such a format would provide board representation for residents of each of the four divisions while also ensuring that a majority of the board would be accountable to all of the district’s residents. Rainbow’s board members rejected that proposal.
The joint powers agreement allowed for a termination provision after one year, and on March 5 Rainbow’s board voted 4-1 with Dennis Sanford in opposition to terminate the joint powers agreement with FPUD. Rainbow board president George McManigle delivered the 30-day notice of termination to FPUD on March 6. FPUD scheduled a special board meeting for March 10, and the board voted 4-0 (with Archie McPhee absent) to submit an application for the merger to LAFCO.
Rainbow’s next regular board meeting was March 25. LAFCO executive officer Mike Ott gave a presentation on the consolidation application process and also provided official LAFCO notice to Rainbow, giving the district 30 days to provide an official response to the FPUD application.
Rainbow initially mistook the April 25 deadline date for a 25-day notice, which would have equated to an April 19 deadline, so a special meeting was scheduled. The April 25 deadline allows for a response by Rainbow’s April 22 meeting and thus gave Rainbow the luxury of creating an ad hoc committee to develop a response.
Rainbow’s accusations at the March 25 meeting included that FPUD did not have sufficient public notice for the March 10 special meeting. FPUD may address that by returning the consolidation item to the agenda at the Fallbrook district’s April 28 board meeting.
“It restarts the clock,” Buckley said. “We do have a little bit more time.”
FPUD’s regular board meetings are on the fourth Monday of the month in the absence of a holiday while Rainbow’s regular meetings are on the fourth Tuesday, so FPUD’s meeting is a usually a day earlier than Rainbow’s but is six days later if the fourth Tuesday of the month is the 22nd and the fourth Monday of the month is the 28th.
“We may have to wait until they do their business on the 28th,” Buckley said.