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Yermo, Daggett to grow closer; Newberry Springs unaffected

Two communities see spheres of influence combined

SAN BERNARDINO • Newberry Springs will keep its independence, but Yermo and Daggett may soon have a closer relationship.

At its Wednesday meeting, the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted to consolidate the spheres of influence for the Daggett and Yermo Community Services Districts (CSD), but left the Newberry Springs sphere alone.

A sphere of influence is an area adjacent to a CSD’s boundaries. According to Bob Smith, LAFCO commissioner and Yermo CSD president, the CSDs don’t have jurisdiction in the area, but can expand their boundaries to include that area if the population grows.

Even though the commission voted for the consolidation, LAFCO Executive Officer Kathleen Rollings-McDonald said the services Yermo and Daggett CSDs provide won’t change. The commission just wants the board of directors to work together to determine if they can work as a single agency.

Smith said the Yermo CSD tried to stay neutral on the consolidation issue and worked with Daggett and Newberry Springs to look at the options and come up with a good solution. He abstained from voting on the issue because of his role as both LAFCO commissioner and a CSD president.

“What came out of all of it was appropriate,” he said. “Newberry will stay their single sphere, and then Daggett and Yermo will be a (another) sphere.”

The commission’s decision makes sense, Smith said, because even though Daggett and Yermo have different population levels, its interests are similar. Daggett’s water company serves constituents in the Yermo CSD in addition to Daggett’s own constituents. Both communities have parks and recreation jurisdiction and street light jurisdiction.

Despite Smith’s assertion that both communities have smilar interests, Beryl Bell, general manager and bookkeeper for the Daggett CSD, said the issues each district faces are unique to that district. No one on the Daggett board or in the community were for the consolidation, she said. Daggett’s CSD directors attended the LAFCO meeting, Bell said, but Rollings-McDonald and Smith didn’t see them.

“We’d much rather each district take care of themselves instead of trying to combine,” she said, adding that Daggett is much smaller than Yermo. “If you throw everything in the pot, (the community) with the most people, the need goes there.”

If Daggett and Yermo decided to combine in the future, Smith said one board made up of three representatives from either community and an at-large member would be formed. Instead of having two general managers, one general manager would be employed. And the community’s resources would be combined.

“My first interest would be to have those districts sit down cooperatively and look at what’s good and what’s bad about coming together as one district,” he said. “And do that with a synergy of both districts working together.”

The representatives of the Newberry Springs CSD who attended the LAFCO meeting said they were ecstatic about the commission’s decision.

“We wanted to remain independent,” said JoAnne Cousino, Newberry Springs general manager. “We have different issues geographically and culturally than the other two (communities). We are happy.” 

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com

Among other items discussed at Wednesday’s LAFCO meeting:
Barstow Cemetery District • The Local Agency Formation Commission directed its staff to file an official complaint with the Grand Jury representatives regarding a lack of accountability from the Barstow Cemetery District and discrepencies in its financial numbers. Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, the commission’s executive officer, said representatives of the district were present but did not speak.

Yermo water rights • The commission reactivated water jurisdiction for the Yermo Community Services District. This allows the Yermo CSD to pursue purchasing Yermo Water Company from current owner Don Walker if it hasn’t already gone into receivership. The company has been investigated by the California Public Utilities Commission since July 2006 when Yermo suffered mass water outages.


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