Our View: River Valley Community Bank is a lesson for Nevada County leaders | TheUnion.com

Our View: River Valley Community Bank is a lesson for Nevada County leaders

The Union Editorial Board

There’s a lesson we can learn from the bureaucratic brouhaha the Board of Supervisors created over a $9,000 fee waiver to River Valley Community Bank.

No, it’s not that Supervisor Dan Miller should announce his campaign contributors from the mountaintop. And it sure isn’t that local government should squeeze every single penny they can from its permitting process.

It’s this: That we should avoid the mantra of “It’s always been this way” and take a closer look at how our government can recruit and maintain businesses in this county.

On July 17 the Board of Supervisors voted 3-to-2, telling its staff to create an agreement that will either waive certain fees or reimburse the bank, which is constructing a branch on Brunswick Road. Miller proposed the waiver because the bank is spending $90,000 to realign Town Talk Road. That realignment should fix the problem intersection of Town Talk, Brunswick and Bubbling Wells roads.

The county gives up some $9,000 and gets $90,000 worth of road upgrades. You’d think a financially conscious government would jump at this chance.

You’d think.

Problems we have in Nevada County are lack of vision, policy and leadership. There is no policy for waiving fees or reimbursing a business. There is no vision for luring businesses, and jobs, to our county.

And we apparently have no one steering the helm ensuring that jobs do come here.

CEO Rick Haffey on July 17 told supervisors to proceed cautiously, because their decision would set a precedent.

We’d argue there desperately needs to be a precedent. Set policy. Create goals and have someone in power meet them.

Shouldn’t our local government waive fees to entice a developer to build low income housing? What about reimbursing a company that would build tiny houses for the homeless? How about tax abatements for a business that would bring jobs to the county?

The days of “It’s always been this way” should end now. We need a government that regularly works with business and nonprofits to improve this community, whether it’s a fee waiver that fixes a bad intersection or a reimbursement that lures a large company.

The situation with River Valley Community Bank is a small piece of this puzzle, but it’s a good example of why we need to change our “business as usual” mentality.

We know what the larger issues are. We need affordable housing. We need jobs that pay well.

And we need leaders who can achieve these goals.

Supervisor Heidi Hall on July 17 asked a good question — why is this coming up now? That question underscores the need for leadership, the need for competent people whose job it is to improve our community.

Regardless of what you think Miller’s motives are, he stepped up when an opportunity arose. What we need to decide is this: Should our government work this way? Clunky, lurching from one situation to another at the 11th hour?

Or maybe we should enact some policies and precedents to make this process move smoother the next time an opportunity appears.

The bank issue isn’t settled. The July 17 vote only directed county staff to write an agreement. Supervisors are expected Aug. 28 to vote on approving that agreement.

Let’s hope this is a precedent that sticks.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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