Members of the public and others who penned an argument against Measure R — the $43 million bond measure that failed in November — addressed the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District at the Jan. 15 board meeting, asking if members of the board would consider changing from an appointed to an elected board.
Currently, the board is made up of five people. Two are appointed by the Tehachapi City Council, and three are appointed by the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
“We are asking you to self-initiate this,” said April Biglay, filer for the argument against Measure R. “We are going to work towards an elected board for this district. You guys represent our tax dollars.”
If the board does not consider self-initiating the change, steps could be taken to press the issue, Biglay said. She did not explain what group might lead such an effort or what steps would be taken to do so.
Larry Barrett, a signer of the argument in opposition to Measure R, said, “I believe Measure R failed because of taxation without representation and that ties into the need for an elected board.”
Barrett added that residents in the Greater Tehachapi area or in remote areas need to be given the opportunity to voice their concerns and run for the board.
“This is a huge consortium of people who want to see this board ... be elected, not just appointed," Barrett said.
Country Oaks resident Kit Bowman said she was concerned that all current board members were 100 percent in favor of Measure R, but close to 70 percent of the community opposed it.
“I still want a successful park district," she said. "I hope this gets resolved somehow.”
Members of the current appointed board spoke on the topic, too.
“I think one of the largest, just for me to speak right now and not talking for the board, is to know what the true cost of this is going to be for the district,” said board member Ian Steele. “We would need to cut programs or close pools or those other pieces — and that’s the biggest concern for me is knowing: Do we cut things that are already short? We have to find the best solution for this, without taking away from the public and the programs that park and recreation provides for them.”
In response, Biglay said, “We may have to take away from the public, that’s a factual stance, but the outcome and the long term, maybe and I don’t say this with sure conviction, but it may be better management at this district.”
Steele added that if the district changed from an appointed to an elected board, the district may have to be redistricted as happened with the Tehachapi City Council. Such an election would have to be placed on the ballot. That could cost the district more than $80,000.
“It will take a little research and effort," board member Wes Backes said. "I would like to make this better and see some growth and I know this will take time and money.”
District Manager Michelle Vance said after the meeting that the board is consulting with legal counsel on how to proceed with the topic and could not comment further.
Measure R is scheduled to be discussed at a special meeting, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at 490 W. D. St.
The TVRPD board was appointed by resolution by both the Board of Supervisors and city of Tehachapi in 1959. Each board member serves a four-year term, according to kerncounty.com.
Out of more than 65 appointed boards, the Kern County Board of Supervisors appoints members to only four parks districts within Kern County, said Kathleen Krause, clerk of the Board of Supervisors.
If the TVRPD board were to change, what would need to happen?
The Kern Local Agency Formation Commission and more than 20 California Government Codes spell that out.
The change of an organization or reorganization is first initiated by petition and accepted by the executive officer of the commission in the county where the organization is located. A notice of a hearing would be mailed to all registered voters or land owners within the district, with written and oral protests received at a hearing.
“The protest hearing on the proposal shall be held by the commission on the date and at the time specified in the notice given by the executive officer. The hearing may be continued from time to time but not to exceed 60 days from the date specified for the hearing in the notice,” according to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
Upon conclusion of the protest hearing, the commission would determine the value of written protests filed. If at least 25 percent of voters residing within the district agreed with changing the board from an appointed to an elected board, or the if the commission received a petition signed by at least 25 percent of registered voters, the board of directors may adopt a resolution placing the question on a ballot. The final step is elections and reporting the results, according to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
For more information go to:leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayexpandedbranch.xhtml?tocCode=GOV&division=3.&title=5.&part=4.&chapter=&article=