Guest Column by Jack Duran re Regional Sewer, Fire
This month I will report on the Regional Sewer Project and Possible Opportunities for Further Regional Cooperation
About a year ago, the Board of Supervisors voted to pursue a regional approach to wastewater treatment. Placer County and the City of Lincoln will construct infrastructure to pump wastewater to an expanded treatment facility in Lincoln. The City of Auburn has had many discussions with the County and Lincoln on whether it is financially feasible for the city to participate in the regional approach.
The Auburn City Council met on Feb. 11 to consider participating in the Regional Wastewater Treatment project. I attended the meeting, along with other county representatives. In addressing the council, I indicated that Board members had been working with Council members and were in support of contributing County funds to offset the costs for Auburn’s participation. There was much discussion on rate stabilization and local control.
The Council ultimately approved a plan directing city staff to further investigate participating in a regional project and return to the Council at a later date with specific contract provisions that would address their concerns with stabilizing rates, governance and retention of control over its existing wastewater infrastructure. I will work with District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, who serves with me on the County Sewer Sub-Committee and County Staff to determine whether we can address Auburn’s concerns so they can determine whether their participation makes sense.
Also during the month of February I attended the Western Placer Fire Chief’s Association meeting, the WPFCA is made up of Fire Chiefs from fifteen Placer Fire Departments, cities and special districts. During the meeting, the Fire Chiefs discussed their efforts at multi-jurisdictional collaboration over the last several years. This collaboration included joint training exercises, standardized emergency response policies and protocols and special emergency response teams. I was truly impressed by the depth and breadth of the Chiefs commitment to public safety, their collaborative efforts and getting the most out of their tax dollars.
At the end of the meeting the Chiefs requested that elected officials look further into possible ways of creating additional financial and structural efficiencies within the County’s emergency response system. As Placer’s Board representative I called for a joint meeting with affected elected officials and their staff to further discuss ways to create additional efficiencies and deepen cooperation. In participating, I will look into reducing costs and further creating efficiencies, whether it be structural, purchasing, equipment and staffing, while focusing on my commitment to provide residents a first rate emergency response service. In the coming months I will be working with area elected officials to vet all of the relevant issues that may lead to added savings and a more effective and productive use of tax dollars for all county residents.
The concept of regional collaboration comes at a time when we are all trying to find ways to do more with less. Regional cooperation is not a new concept and as I serve on several regional boards and Commissions such as the South Placer Wastewater Authority, West Placer Waste Management Authority and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, have a working knowledge of how these entities operate and can attest to their ability to not only be effective at governance, but with officials working together regularly can lead to the reduction of friction between jurisdictions. Although my first responsibility will always be to do what is in the best interest of County residents, as a matter of both policy and my own personality, I will always remain open to dialog with our local cities and towns and to collaborate on matters when it makes sense to do so.
Finally, I will be ramping up a new set of “Supervisor in Your Corner” public meet and greet dates to begin in the near future, so we can meet in person to discuss your questions and concerns. As always, it is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Placer County Supervisor. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact me at (916) 787-8950 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.