MENDOCINO COUNTY EXECUTIVE OFFICE
Ukiah, California: May 31, 2016
REVIEW OF POTENTIAL FISCAL IMPACT TO THE COUNTY FROM THE BALLOT INITIATIVE ENTITLED, “SHALL A CHARTER COMMISSION BE ELECTED TO PROPOSE A MENDOCINO COUNTY CHARTER?”
On May 17, 2016, the Board of Supervisors received an update from the Chief Executive Officer regarding the legal obligations and fiscal implications should the Charter Commission be formed at the June 2016 Mendocino County Primary Election. This information was presented as a result of Board direction during their April 19, 2016, Board meeting, where the Executive Office was directed to perform an analysis of the fiscal impacts to the County from the ballot initiative. The Executive Office discussed the County’s obligations to fund the prosed Commission and drafting of the Charter, such as administrative support, legal representation, financial support to the proposed Commission, and/or providing meeting space. Based upon the timelines associated with the proposed Charter Initiative being placed on the June 2016 primary election ballot, a thorough analysis of the potential impacts associated with the formation of a Charter County was not performed; rather, the focus of this review was related to the processes to form the proposed Commission and their charge to write the Charter.
The review described that Pursuant to California Government Code, Citizens of a county can put a question on the ballot to determine whether to draft or revise a charter and elect a charter commission using the initiative petition process. If this question receives majority approval, the 15 candidates for the charter commission that receive the most votes will organize into a commission to draft a charter. Should the charter county initiative be passed by the majority voters, the Board could elect to provide funding for certain duties for those members that are elected; however, financial support is not mandated and would be at the discretion of the Board. Estimates were provided regarding estimated elections costs associated with placing such a ballot on the initiative, specifically noting that should the initiative require a special election, the costs would be significantly higher than regularly scheduled election (either primary or general election). For example, the estimated costs to conduct a Special Election would be $100,000-$150,000 depending on the voter turnout. Of notable mention was that once a Charter Commission is elected, they appear to be a County Commission for all purposes. Therefore, it is believed that any Charter they draft or develop that would result in litigation; the County would need to legally defend. This process and fiscal review included scenarios that were based upon minimal, moderate and extended support, ranging in potential costs to the County from $50,000 to $300,000+.
A full copy of the informational update presented to the Board is attached and can also be located on the County’s website at: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/administration/CEOReports.htm.