Fireworks During TCEDA Debate
Sonora, CA — The future of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority was a passionate topic at today’s board of Supervisors meeting.
The entity that supports and promotes local business growth was created between the city and county a decade ago. For one to exit the joint powers agreement, the requirement is to give the other side 180 day-notice prior to the start of a new fiscal year on July 1.
This month the city of Sonora requested it be dwindled to a 90 day period so that the council can review management and financial audits following a recent Grand Jury Report.
During today’s discussion, outgoing CAO Craig Pedro spoke about the importance of the TCEDA, and encouraged the board to allow the extra time. He stated, “Give the TCEDA a chance to succeed and live on, reconfigured and some things addressed. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose with that time.”
District Five Supervisor Karl Rodefer was critical of the city’s request, and indicated that he hopes the council is sincere in giving the TCEDA a chance to succeed. He stated, “I personally hope the city will prove to be the good, responsible partner that the county has always counted on….to accept equal responsibility for TCEDA as it exists, and stay the course for TCEDA, and help our representatives define and enact such changes that should be made. Quite frankly, to do otherwise begs the question of what kind of partner they will prove to be in any current or future partnership with the county moving forward.”
District Three Supervisor Evan Royce argued there will be serious consequences for the city and county if the TCEDA dissolves.
He said, “We’ve got antiquated and historic industries from the 1800’s, mining and logging, which I love. But, we also need to move forward into our future and we need to evolve to where we are interfacing with areas like the Bay Area and valley. Agriculture, technology and tourism have to be promoted. It costs money and it doesn’t just happen on its own. Anybody that thinks it’s going to just happen is a fool, and anybody that doesn’t think this is important is a fool.”
Royce also took a personal shot at Ken Perkins who filed a high profile transparency lawsuit against the TCEDA, which was later settled, as reported here. Royce looked at him, and stated, “You have completely attacked this thing and I think you have personal motivations. And I don’t give any credibility to the attacks you have made.”
Royce also raised his voice and called the extra money spent hiring auditors and lawyers regarding the TCEDA recently, “bull-sh%#,” and a waste of time and money.
Royce, in his final regular session meeting, added that he feels some do not like TCEDA Director Larry Cope because he is promoting growth and development, which can be controversial in Tuolumne County, but this is the direction given by the board of supervisors.
District One Supervisor Sherri Brennan added that it would be “terribly unfortunate,” if the city leaves the TCEDA.
The county declined to approve the 90 day extension, and instead passed a 60 day extension. The council had earlier stated that if the county failed to grant the 90 day extension by January 1st it would spur an automatic notice of withdrawal from the TCEDA. County Counsel Sarah Carrillo said that she will now speak with the city’s attorney to find out if the 60 day extension suffices.
The final vote was 4-1, with Supervisor Randy Hanvelt in opposition. Hanvelt, a proponent of the TCEDA, felt that the 180 day notice was put in for a reason. He stated that while he opposes the extension, he would like the Chair and Vice Chair of the supervisors to meet with the Mayor and Vice Mayor of the city to identity and work through any differences.