LAFCO DRAFT POSTPONED [UPDATED]
Report assessing City takeover of 29 Palms Water District was due March 9
UPDATE MAY 5, 2022: A technical review draft of the LAFCO report was released the week of April 23 to the City of 29 Palms, the 29 Palms Water District and the 29 Palms Cemetery District for review and corrections. See our recent article for the public comment deadline.
Sources have told the Desert Trumpet that the LAFCO1draft report on the potential consolidation of the 29 Palms Water District, the Cemetery district and Desert Heights under the City of 29 Palms has been postponed. The postponement was requested via a letter by City Manager/Financial Director Frank Luckino circulated on March 8, one day before the draft report was scheduled to be issued. Luckino confirmed the postponement in an email exchange with 29 Palms Neighbors, “With my time focused on the sewer project, I just do not have the time to review the draft.”
With my time focused on the sewer project, I just do not have the time to review the draft. –– 29 Palms City Manager / Finance Director Frank Luckino
Mayor Karmolette O'Gilvie agreed with Luckino that with the focus on wastewater, staff doesn’t have the bandwidth for the LAFCO review. O’Gilvie prefers to wait for the LAFCO report to be issued before stating a position on consolidation, “I try to make a practice of not forming any opinions on a matter until all information has been gathered. However, the Wastewater Project is the most important task that protects our groundwater supply.”2
“I see pros and cons on both sides.” But he still wants to see the report, “I’m more interested in what the report says about current City services.” — Council Member Steven Bilderain
In an April 15 conversation, Council Member Steven Bilderain stated that while he was aware postponement was a possibility, he was not aware that it had occurred. He added, ”If the Water District were to become part of the City, all Water District jobs would be retained.” However Bilderain conceded that should the Water District be incorporated into the City of 29 Palms, General Manager Matt Shragge would become a department head under the City Manager. Bilderain is “indifferent” on the consolidation being assessed by LAFCO, “I see pros and cons on both sides.” But he still wants to see the report, “I’m more interested in what the report says about current City services.”
The postponement of the LAFCO report for an undetermined amount of time leaves a potential City take over hanging over Twentynine Palms Water as the Water District Board decides on support requested by Luckino for the wastewater and sewer plan.3
LAFCO stands for “Local Agency Formation Commission.” LAFCos are responsible for coordinating logical and timely changes in local governmental boundaries, conducting special studies that review ways to reorganize, simplify, and streamline governmental structure and preparing a sphere of influence for each city and special district within each county.
A USGS study is needed to determine the need for sewer and wastewater and whether there is danger to the water system. Currently there is no data to support that there is a danger to the ground water from wastewater.