Writ Filed To Seek Correction To ERAF Problem
Our status as an independent district has allowed us finally to move forward on our largest strategic initiative, our effort to reduce the disproportionate ERAF (Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund) rate that drains almost $1M per year from our fire-designated tax dollars. Our district currently contributes the highest percentage of ERAF in all of Sonoma County at 47.2%, with the next highest being Windsor at only 17%. This disparity has long been a bone of contention between us and the County with efforts to address it for more than a decade falling on deaf ears.
In the fall of 2016, after numerous attempts at negotiations with the county, we finally filed a "Request for Public Records" that produced more than 7,000 pages of documents, many of which had never been shared with us. We again attempted a "good faith" negotiation with the county which resulted in the same opinion (and attitude) that has forced us to pursue our only other option we had hoped to avoid. On January 11, 2017 we filed suit (Writ of Mandamus) in the State of California Superior Court-Sonoma County, to force the discussion with the county, and our day in court will hopefully have a judge agree that this disparity cannot stand. Our expert counsel, William Ross, is confident the calculations applied to us many years ago are inconsistent with state law, and this court case will hopefully produce a new ERAF rate that could potentially save the district at least $500k per year! The NSCFPD board felt strongly that the investment in the legal action was a must-do if we are to provide the long term financial sustainability our community needs and deserves. The venue for the suit has been moved to Sacramento County. The court hearing on the Writ is expected to occur at the end of October or early November, 2017.
You can also hear more about this and other district updates at The Sea Ranch Forum on October 7, 2017 by Chiefs Plakos and Aitchison, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville and representatives from the district board.