[Tuolumne County] Sonora mayor calls for special meeting on TCEDA decision

Blog note: this article is the latest that references a grand jury report about the TCEDA.

A special meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday could decide the fate of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority.

The Sonora City Council will meet at City Hall to consider the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors’ offer of a 60-day extension to the Dec. 31 deadline for the city to decide whether it will remain a part of the TCEDA moving forward.

If the council decides to reject the offer, the city will automatically withdraw from the agency at the end of the year under a resolution passed by the council on Dec. 3.

Mayor Jim Garaventa said he made the decision to call for the special meeting, which was announced about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The Board of Supervisors considered the council’s request for a 90-day deadline extension on Tuesday, but voted 4-1 to offer an additional 60 days out of concern that the additional 30 days would conflict with the county budgeting process for the next fiscal year.

“From what was said and voted on at the board meeting, I thought it was only fair for the council to get together and discuss the board’s action,” Garaventa said.

Not accepting the board’s offer of 60 days would automatically withdraw the city from future participation in the TCEDA, which would effectively trigger the agency’s dissolution.

The council has discussed the possibility of splitting from the TCEDA after the 2018 Tuolumne County Civil Grand Jury’s report released in June identified a number of potential concerns related to how it was being operated and spending public funds.

Namely, the jury’s report described a “very informal agency” that had few standard operating processes and procedures.

The TCEDA was created in 2008 through a joint powers agreement between the city and county, which each contribute to the agency’s $460,000 annual budget.

The city contributes about $103,000 to the TCEDA’s annual budget, while the county covers about $344,000.

Several citizens have repeatedly called for the city to stop funding the TCEDA following the release of the jury’s report.

Audits are currently being conducted of the TCEDA’s finances and management practices by the independent firm MGO, which was hired by the agency’s board in September under a recommendation from both the city and county.

Part of the reason to ask for the additional 90 days was because some on the council wanted to see the results of the audits, which aren’t expected until sometime in January.

Garaventa said he also wanted to see the TCEDA implement any changes that come out of the audits, but he’s not sure that can be done in 60 days.

“I’m leaning toward still doing the 60-day continuation, but I’m not sure if the other council members feel that way,” he said. “I’m also less confident that anything could be resolved in that time period.”

December 19, 2018

The Union Democrat

By Alex MacLean

County: