Second opinions can be a good thing. Whether it’s for a medical condition or incorporating a small town like Olympic Valley, a second pair of eyes helps! Trouble is, people often get a second opinion to validate the first. They really only hear what they want to hear.
In this case, the second pair of eyes was by Blue Sky reviewing a preliminary fiscal analysis conducted for Placer County LAFCO. The county’s vendor, RSG Consulting Group, performed a comprehensive financial review of whether a new town could be survive. The conclusion was crystal clear. Incorporation is not fiscally viable. Unfortunately, those pushing incorporation don’t want to accept the hard data. They would rather argue about decimal errors or whether the town would need a 17% reserve or a 30% reserve. These rationalizations fly in the face of reality.
If created, and that’s a big IF, Olympic Valley would be not only California’s newest town, but also the smallest. There’s only 500 registered voters in the area and the community is already heavily divided over whether incorporation is a positive development. I say development, because incorporation is really about controlling and limiting Squaw Valley’s development project.
That’s the irony. Incorporation requires a successful development project to generate revenue for the town. Both fiscal studies indicate that, even if development unfolds at a rapid pace, the new town is not viable. In fact, the second study says “there are good reasons to believe that development would be slower than expected. Continued drought, economic recession, environmental litigation, or the actions of a new town council could all act to slow or stall development.” The report says, if this were to occur, “the fiscal implications for the town could be dire.”
What? Dire?!!! A proposed town is already in financial trouble? Maybe this town is different, and won’t rely heavily, if not almost exclusively on the weather, tourism and revenue generated by the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Uh, okay. May be not!
This is what happens when a few wealthy NIMBY’s, who have joined forces with Sierra Watch and Friends of Squaw Valley, start cutting their own towline. By curtailing development at Squaw, there isn’t enough revenue generated for standard services let alone their entitlements. There isn’t enough revenue to have an adequate reserve to protect the town and its citizens from unforeseen events. But these are the same people who demanded their own locker room at the resort, special reserved parking and annual memberships courtesy of Squaw.
At the June 10 LAFCO meeting, these advocates for incorporation raised concerns about errors and flaws of the preliminary CFA. Now, many of those allegations have been proven wrong, and so the fiscal analysis (CFA) isn’t inaccurate like they said. The only flawed thinking is by those who still want to incorporate when common sense and financial DATA says it will have a negative impact on the area.
The county’s independent analysis shows incorporation doesn’t work. The Blue Sky review also shows incorporation is fiscally infeasible. Blue Sky Consulting Group is a Sacramento-Oakland-based public policy and economics consulting firm with some serious credentials and fiscal experts. The incorporation folks and LAFCO have been given a second opinion. The only question left is, is anyone listening?