So far this year, there have been at least three meetings in which members of the Grass Valley City Council had to draw straws.
In those instances, the council was making decisions about the city’s lighting and landscaping districts, and more than half of the council members were stakeholders in those districts. With three out of five council members sitting those votes out, however, the council did not have a quorum — the minimum number of council members required to take action.
As a result, council members Jason Fouyer, Jan Arbuckle and Lisa Swarthout repeatedly went through the unusual process of recusing themselves, then drawing straws to see which one would stay behind and vote so that the council could maintain a quorum.
According to Tim Kiser, Grass Valley’s director of public works, these districts are used to funding smaller infrastructure elements like streetlights and drainage when the group of residents who benefit from that infrastructure is too small to justify spreading the financial burden across all of the city’s residents. Property owners within each district pay a portion of the cost, based on how much they benefit from the infrastructure elements provided.
“That’s done through an engineering report when they’re first created and in there it assigns weights to individual properties based on the benefit that property receives,” Kiser said.
“If a property has more landscaping, more lineal frontage of roadway, they pay their landscaping fees on a pro-rata formula,” Kiser said. “For street lights, everyone benefits the same.”
This year’s benefit assessment totals for the city’s eight L&L districts came to $60,636 — up roughly $775 from last year’s total of $59,861.
To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.