The meeting was the result of Vice Mayor Nancy Rogers’ resignation from City Council, leaving just Mayor Mark Marin and Councilwoman Joy Markum and the lack of ability to govern.
Presiding was the Board of Supervisors, and Deputy County Counsel Joe Larmour as well as Assistant County Counsel Margaret Long and County Counsel David Prentice by teleconference.
A memo prepared by Prentice laid out two scenarios:
•To appoint a third City Council member As a result, the Council must, within 30 days from the commencement of the vacancy, either fill the vacancy by appointment or call a special election to fill the vacancy to be held on the next regularly established election date not less than 114 days from the call of the special election;
•Board of Supervisors Move for Disincorporation of Loyalton, where the County would have administrative responsibility to use funds from the territory of Loyalton to pay debts of the City and raise money through taxes of the people of the disincorporated city, if necessary. The process would be a consideration of LAFCO, an election and a completion of proceedings.
Prentice stated by teleconference that they had put together as much information as they could and had a “long discussion with the Loyalton attorney,” who was not present.
Supervisor Lee Adams told Loyalton’s history and how it was created by a petition of residents and who should determine its future and choices were pushed from within the community, not outside. His comments were met with applause.
Public comments included Janet McHenry, former teacher who stated just because the current leadership isn’t effective doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable entity and told of former council tasks, including 50 civic works projects, some which honor the town’s history and how the city council had previously worked together with skilled volunteers. “Good people need to step forward again for and by the people,” she stated.
Jackie Mitchell told of 60 museum volunteers and $60,000 spent mostly on handicapped access and stated she would vote us to leave it as a city but they need to fix the ceiling at city hall. She asked to get the museum money back and told of the thrift store with its wonderful things. She would like to see a new election for a whole new council.
Mike Welbourn lived here 30 years and said there was no “intelligent argument” to keep the city incorporated, stating, “It doesn’t work,” and “It has to change.”
Gary Shelton was a prior council member and said it was tough and was for disincorporation.
Joyce Cameron knew the County wasn’t trying to take the city over and has a lot of faith in the county. She said they are trying to salvage it. She spoke in favor to get good people to get things fixed. She said councilmen are all lay people with a lot of regulations with no paid mayor or city manager and doing it from the heart. She too, is thrilled with the park and museum. In case of an ad hoc committee, she would love to be on it.
Brooks Mitchell served on a prior council and wanted a special election to fill all five positions since it takes a 4/5 vote to spend contingencies and sewer funds to fix any project. He said neither council member was elected. County Clerk Heather Foster stated Mark Marin was appointed in lieu of an election and his term is up in November “Fix the damned roof,” he advised.
Phyllis DeMartini wanted to know benefits of going with the county and called it all thankless jobs. She had concern with the mayor having said it would remain Loyalton Fire Department and called it a poor choice not to include Loyalton in the fire district if there’s a disincorporation. She was also concerned over a $10,000 grant given the fire department by the hospital board which is in the city’s general fund.
County Planning Director Tim Beals explained if disincorporated, city services would be included in a municipal service review and finances flow analysis, part of LAFCO. He stated ”no easy answers.” LAFCO consists of two supervisors, two city council members and one public member.
Lee Adams suggested city residents look at other county communities and said most services would go into special districts. He would want to see “a real emergency” before the county steps in.
Don Yegge wanted to know if LAFCO could make a decision and he was told no.
Chairman Scott Schlefstein said the Board was not doing anything today and it was up to the city. Adams added that the sky is not falling. One hundred seventeen years ago, he said, they made the decision and
the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Downieville, according to Lee, was incorporated in 1864, sat on it for 40 years and then disincorporated.
Tim said if annexed, Loyalton would become a community services district with a number of options and the fire service would be a critical part. He explained disincorporation could be initiated by a resolution of the Board or of the city or decided by 25% of the property owners within the city.
A letter was read by pharmacist E.J. Peeler in favor of the retirees’ money and would “gladly let the county help.”
John Cussins was the city water treatment operator, the longest term employee and a retiree who lost 60% of his CalPERS retirement and he told how he kept the city in compliance with no pay. He told how a city council lowered water and sewer rates and are in dire straits and he’d like the county to work hand in hand like in 1990. He called the present situation “a nightmare waiting to happen.” He stated 17% of the property tax doesn’t work.
Mayor Mark Marin denied knowing “hardly anything” about CalPERS. “I’m green,” he said and stepped into lawsuits.
Councilwoman Joy Markum called herself “voice of the people.” She said Joe Dines is willing to make the city what we want it to be.
Colby Russell, captain on the fire department and past employee had a concern for retired CalPERS employees which needs to be fixed. Stop, work together and “quit arguing and bickering,” he stressed.
Tom Dotta with ancestors here since 1850 questioned, “What else do we need to lose if we dissolve the city” and suggested dissolving the county with huge unfunded liabilities. “Why wouldn’t the county work with the city,” he asked.
Jackie Mertton asked what percentage of voters or property owners or a combination are required to pass a community resolution to resolve. The answer was it would need to be researched by the city attorney.
NOTE: Nancy Rogers kept her City Council seat. City attorney Steve Gross explains why in a letter to the City of Loyalton which is posted on cityofloyalton.org, under government.