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Quincy, California
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June 23, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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Plumas County Grail Jury Report Page 4 their plans. Our investigation concluded that there is room for improvement. A strong commitment on the part of both Plumas County and Portola to follow through on their economic development plans and to collaborate with one another would go a long way in helping our citizens build a stronger, more resilient economy in the coming decade. Commendation to Plumas Corporation, the Visitors Bureau and the Chambers of Commerce The Grand Jury found that these organizations are very valuable and effective contributors to planning and prom0ting economic development in Plumas County, and we commend them for their achievements. T Findings and Recommendations: Plumas County Finding 1: The County is not focused on economic development, as defined by the Grand Jury. The Board of Supervisors relies entirely on Plumas Corporation and the local Chambers of Commerce to set priorities and direction for economic develop- ment and tourism marketing. Recommendation 1: The Board of Supervisors should take a leadership role by defining and imple- menting an economic development policy and pro- gram to include planning, funding, implementing, andmonitoring economic development in the county. The Grand Jury recommends that the county employ an economic development coordinator to focus on business recruitment and follow through on an eco- nomic development plan. Finding 2: The County is not providing stable or enough funding to support ongoing economic devel- opment. There is a tendency to decrease funding for economic development and tourism promotion when the economy is in a downturn. This is evidenced by recent across-the-board budget cuts. Recommendation 2: The" Board of Supervisors should recognize that economic development is a high priority for Plumas County and fund it accord- ingly to ensure resilience as the economy improves. Finding 3: Plumas County has no contractual obliga- tions attached to its use of public funds for economic development. In the 2009-2010 Plumas County budget, Plumas Corporation received over $230,000. There is no formal accountability mechanism in place. Recommendation 3: The County should execute an annual contract with Plumas Corporation for each year's economic development program. A formal contract should include a detailed scope of work and benchmarks for success which can be validated. Finding 4: Because of the unique geography in Plumas County, regional economic centers exist: Almanor Basin, Blairsden-Graeagle, Eastern Plumas, Greenville, and Quincy. Each center has its own dis- tinctive qualities and economies but all fall under the jurisdiction of the county. Recommendation 4: Any updated economic develop- ment plan completed by the county should take into account the differences between our economic cen- ters and provide specific objectives to assist them in developing and growing their economies. Finding 5: The Board of Supervisors has hired con- sultants and the General Plan update is mnving toward completion in 2011. Yet Plumas County has not contracted with the current General Plan consul- tants to include the optional Economic Development Element. Recommendation 5: Plumas County should ensure that economic development is an essential compo- nent of the General Plan update. This critical ele- ment must be a high priority. ,.. City of Portola Finding 6: The City of Portola has an Economic Development Element in its General Plan, and the city documents the status of each implementation measure. However, there are measures listed for which no progress is shown. Recommendation 6: The City should set priorities and employ an economic development professional to recommend implementation strategies. Plumas County and City of Portola-Collaboration Finding 7: The Grand Jury saw little evidence in our investigation that Plumas County and the City of Portola have made an effort to collaborate on eco- nomic development. Recommendation 7: The timing is right for the coun- ty to make sure the Economic Development Element of its General Plan is compatible with the city's updat- ed element. The city and the county should collabo- rate to develop compatible economic development plans and provide countywide leadership to attract new businesses and industry. Both should consider sharing the cost of an economic development profes- sional for mutually beneficial projects. Finding 8: As defined by the Government Code, "Sphere of Influence" is a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service area of a local agency, The City of Portola is in the process of updating and redefining its Sphere of Influence and needs cooperation and support from the county to get this done. Recommendation 8: The Grand Jury feels that much can be gained by the two governments working together on the city's Sphere of Influence. Plumas County and the City of Portola must come together to agree upon an updated Sphere of Influence for the city, Advance sales tax and hotel tax sharing agree- ments between the two governments should be con- sidered to facilitate moving forward on development projects which could help our economy grow. Background Information: In researching economic development in Plumas County, the Grand Jury determined that all of the following governments and agencies are involved in promoting the economy and use some local public funds to accomplish their programs: Chambers of Commerce: Chester/Lake Almanor, Eastern Plumas, Indian Valley and Quincy City of Portola Plumas Corporation/Plumas County Visitor's Bureau Plumas County There are no statutes on the books requiring govern- ments to get involved in economic development. It is not a core service, such as, police protection, road maintenance, or social services; however, city and county officials can play an important role in foster- ing and maintaining a diversified economy. They Can shore up the local economy by funding economic development programs, improving infrastructure, i.e., roads, water and sewer services, devising clear, concise and timely land use policies, and creating a business-friendly atmosphere. Plumas County The Chair of the Board of Supervisors informed the Grand Jury that the county does not have a county- wide economic development plan; however, our research indicates that there is a plan which was completed by Plumas Corporation and approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 22, 2002. Instead of systematically implementing their plan, the Board of Supervisors promotes economic development in other ways, They participate in organizational meet- ings related to economic development within and out- side of the county. Periodically, the Board approves eco- nomic incentives to help stimulate the economy. Recently, for example, the county waived the develop- ment impact fee that was imposed on all building per- mits. The Board also supports various development projects which benefit their constituents. A variety of mixed commercial/residential subdivisions have been approved by the Board of Supervisors throughout the county in the last decade. Some of these projects are not built out as planned, and with the downturn in the economy, some are struggling to stay afloat. The county does not have clearly defined land use policies in place for potential developments because its 1981 General Plan is outdated. The State has granted a two-year extension of the Plan, and the county has hired consultants to implement the updating process. Some development projects have been placed on hold until that process is completed in 2011. In addition to the seven required elements of the General Plan, there are three additional ele- ments which the county can contract with the con- sultants to complete. One of those is the Economic Element. Plumas Corporation Our research indicates that the Board of Supervisors relies solely upon Plumas Corporation for promotion of tourism and strategic economic development planning. This non-profit was first incorporated in 1983 as a lobbying entity with the specific purpose of promoting the expansion of the county's economic base. According to the 2007 revi- sion of its bylaws, in addition to promoting econom- ic vitality, it now also promotes good land steward- ship. Eighty percent of the agency's 2009 budget was dedicated to erosion control and fire safe programs. Plumas Corporation does some long range planning for economic development and provides economic indicators and other data each year for the Board of Supervisors. The agency produced a sixty-eight page Economic Development Strategy plan in 2002 for the county and currently is in the process of updating that document. The agency also uses some of the county funding to apply for grants and to interface with other agencies involved in economic development inside and outside of the county. There is no contract in place between the county and Plumas Corporation. The non- profit files an annual independent auditor's report with the County Administrator's Office. Plumas County Visitors Bureau The Plumas County Visitors Bureau, which is under the umbrella of Plumas Corporation, receives a