The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is working on providing the Rossmoor board with cost of service estimates, according to Henry Taboada, general manager of the Rossmoor Community Services District.
Taboada said the district was likely to see the cost estimate in a month.
He said he also asked the Sheriff’s Department to project costs for future years.
Taboada delivered the news during his report on Rossmoor’s governance to the Tuesday, Sept. 11, meeting of the RCSD board.
Taboada reminded the board of a recent opinion issued by the California Attorney General’s Office that said the unincorporated community of Rossmoor could directly hire law enforcement services.
Taboada said that until recently, the Orange County Counsel’s Office had disagreed.
Taboada said that Rossmoor staff had recently met with Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her staff to discuss the possibility.
He also said the district was seeking financial data from the county to support the Rossmoor board’s position that the unincorporated community is a “donor district.”
The term means that Rossmoor officials believe Orange County takes in more money from Rossmoor than it spends on providing services to Rossmoor.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors has for several years now been pursuing a policy of merging unincorporated communities with nearby cities to reduce the cost of providing those communities with services.
Rossmoor has consistently resisted any effort by the Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission and Supervisor John Moorloch to move Rossmoor into Los Alamitos.
Meanwhile, Rossmoor has been preparing to ask LAFCO for “latent powers” to contract for law enforcement, animal control and trash collection services.
In June, the Orange County Grand Jury issued a report calling for the end of special districts, including unincorporated communities.
Last week, Director Bill Kahlert asked Taboada how the Rossmoor district would pay for police services.
Taboada said the first thing the board needed to know was how much the county was spending on police services to Rossmoor. Then the board needed to know how much it would cost for Rossmoor to hire dedicated services from the Sheriff’s Department.
He said the purpose of Rossmoor’s Public Record Act request for financial data from the county was to validate the position that Rossmoor pays more than it costs.
“Hopefully, it would be a wash,” Taboada said. “That’s what you’re looking for.”
Taboada said the Sheriff’s Department was working independently to determine the cost of providing Rossmoor with police services.
“Do we know yet how much the county is spending on the community of Rossmoor?” Kahlert asked.
Taboada, citing a Comprehensive Financial Analysis prepared for the ultimately unsuccessful 2008 effort to incorporate Rossmoor, said that in 2006 it cost the county $1,194,000 to provide Rossmoor with police services.
Resident criticizes board
A former RCSD board member and critic of the current board had a heated exchange with President Alfred Colletta when she tried to continue speaking past the three minutes allotted each member of the public to speak to the board.
During the public comment segment of the meeting, Rossmoor resident Joyce Bloom said that by hiring the general manager as an outside contractor, the board had exposed the district to IRS penalties.
“You are not supposed to do that,” Bloom said.
“You have hired a person as an independent contractor and that is against the law,” Bloom said.
Bloom also criticized the board for plans to spend an estimated $27,000 on signage at the entrances to the district.
However, Bloom was not able to finish her criticisms of the board because the RCSD limits residents to three minutes each for comment.
Bloom said that maybe someone in the audience would give her their three minutes. President Colletta said he didn’t see anyone raising their hands.
Bloom tried to speak to the board again after three other residents spoke.
“Three minutes are not sufficient time for any citizen to come up and tell you something,” Bloom said.
“You’re my director—I’m not yours,” she said.
Colletta said she was asking for special privileges.
Bloom and Colletta spoke over one another several times.
Colletta advised Bloom to submit a memo to the board to be placed on a future RCSD agenda.
Call for sergeant at arms
At the end of the meeting, Kahlert said he wanted the Rossmoor board meetings to have a sergeant-at-arms.
“I’d like to explore a way for us to have a sergeant-at-arms at these meetings,” he said.
A sergeant at arms is an individual assigned to keep order at a meeting. A law enforcement officer usually performs this function at the meeting of a public agency.
Kahlert said sometimes a sheriff’s deputy was at the RCSD board meeting and sometimes a deputy was not there.
“I would feel safer if we would have some kind of presence here,” Kahlert said.
Taboada said that one advantage of having your own police department is that you could have the chief of police at each meeting.
“I would appreciate that, preferably at the next meeting,” Kahlert said.
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