The Colma fire, Broadmoor police and Bayshore sanitary districts could be dissolved, according to Project Resource Specialists, a consulting firm hired by the San Mateo Local Agency Formation Commission.
Those possibilities are explored in LAFCO’s recently released North County Cities & Special Districts Municipal Service Review and Sphere of Influence Study, and will be voted on during the commission’s July 15 regular meeting.
Some of the suggestions could represent controversial changes for the affected communities, but they could also lead to big savings for ratepayers, said LAFCO Executive Officer Martha Poyatos. She explained that one of LAFCO’s primary goals is to streamline government by helping cities and special districts avoid duplicating or overlapping services.
The Bayshore Sanitary District provides sewer and wastewater treatment services to parts of Brisbane and Daly City’s Bayshore neighborhood. If the Daly City and Brisbane city governments assumed the duties currently performed by the district, Daly City residents would probably see a reduction in rates, Poyatos said. Costs for the parts of Brisbane currently served by the district tend to be high, however, and Poyatos warned that safeguards would need to be put in place to prevent Brisbane customers from seeing rate hikes if the proposed change was enacted.
Homeowners in the unincorporated Broadmoor neighborhood could also save money if Daly City and San Mateo County assumed responsibility for that community’s police and fire services, Poyatos said.
Some Broadmoor homeowners have a longstanding desire to remain separate from Daly City, but their property tax savings under the proposed changes could be significant, Poyatos said.
Property owners in Broadmoor pay an annual $397 parcel tax to support the police district, while the Colma Fire Protection District’s services add $150 to their yearly parcel tax bill, Poyatos said. She noted, however, that residents would have to weigh the potential cost savings against any drawbacks that might arise from breaking with Broadmoor’s tradition of local control.
In addition to serving Broadmoor, the Colma Fire Protection District also serves the city of Colma and adjacent unincorporated areas. If the district were dissolved, its duties would most likely be assumed by the North County Fire Authority, which currently serves Daly City, Brisbane and Pacifica.
The consultant also recommended that San Mateo County contract with Daly City to provide street sweeping, lighting and maintenance services to Broadmoor and to neighborhoods that are outside Colma’s city limits but commonly thought of as unincorporated Colma.
The consultant further suggested annexing those unincorporated Colma neighborhoods into Daly City.
In June 2014, City Manager Pat Martel issued dire warnings about Daly City’s budget deficit, and described a host of belt-tightening measures that had been implemented to control city government’s expenses.
Those measures appear to be paying off, as the LAFCO report noted that Daly City has made strides toward reducing its deficit.
Colma, however, has a seven- to eight-year backlog of deferred infrastructure and public facilities projects, along with $8.2 million in public pension liabilities over the next five years.
While some of the consultant’s recommendations might meet resistance from residents and stakeholders, Poyatos said she hoped the resulting conversations would focus on providing the best possible services for the affected communities. She added that much of the consultant report focuses on possible savings and efficiencies that local agencies could implement outside of any major organizational changes.
Poyatos said residents who want to comment on the proposed changes should email her no later than June 29. For Poyatos’ contact information, or to read the full Municipal Service Review, visit lafco.smcgov.org.
LAFCO’s next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. July 15 at the Board of Supervisors Chamber, 400 County Center, Redwood City.