TRLIA Assessment District
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why an assessment?

To pay for required maintenance on improved levees. Approximately $400 million is being invested in 29 miles of levee improvements in South Yuba County. A significant portion, or $200 million, is paid for by the state with State Prop 1E and Prop 13 funds. Per signed agreements with the state, TRLIA must ensure the improved levees are maintained to urban standards, which requires more manpower, modern equipment, and higher levels of skill than ever before.

Q: If RD 784 is responsible for levee maintenance, why is TRLIA managing the assessment?

TRLIA is partnering with RD 784 to protect the $400 million investment in South Yuba County levee improvements. To date, the state has contributed approximately $200 million toward levee improvement efforts. As a condition of that funding, TRLIA is required to ensure the improved levees are maintained to urban standards. The assessment district is designed to provide the resources RD 784 needs to meet those requirements.

TRLIA is a joint powers authority (JPA) formed by Reclamation District 784 and Yuba County. The JPA Agreement authorizes TRLIA to finance, create community facility districts, assessment districts, or other financing districts, construct/repair, acquire property, and provide for maintenance of levee improvements. It is viewed as an effective agent to implement an assessment district.

Q: Isn’t the majority of South Yuba County considered rural? Why do we have to maintain levees to urban standards?
A: For the purpose of flood protection, any area with more than 10,000 residents is considered urban. The population of South Yuba County exceeded this amount prior to development in Plumas Lake. Maintenance requirements for urban levees are much more stringently enforced than those for rural levees, because the levees must protect lives and property.
Q: How much will it cost to maintain levees to urban standards?
A: The additional cost for maintaining improved levees to urban standards is approximately $800,000 per year. The improved levees have new features, like relief wells and electronic monitoring equipment. Urban levee maintenance requires more manpower with higher technical skills, improved equipment, new methods of vegetation and rodent control, acquisition of flood fighting and maintenance easements, and resources for immediate repairs.
Q: Who’s Responsible for Levees?

The State of California owns the levees. Reclamation District 784 (RD 784) handles levee operations and maintenance on behalf of the state. RD 784 is responsible for approximately 37 miles of levees in South Yuba County. Since 2004, the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority (TRLIA) has managed major levee construction. In the past four years, TRLIA has improved nearly 29 miles of RD 784’s levees.

TRLIA, a joint powers agency formed by the County and the RD 784, is authorized to:

  • finance, create community facility districts, assessment districts, or other financing districts
  • construct/repair, acquire property, and provide for maintenance of levee improvements

Per signed agreements with the state, TRLIA is required to ensure the maintenance of improved levees to stringent urban standards.

The levess will be maintained by RD 784 with funding and other support provided by TRLIA.

Q: How is the assessment calculated?

Per state law, the assessment is directly related to the benefit each property receives from better, stronger flood protection. The assessment district is divided into four zones so properties are grouped by similar benefit. 

  • Benefit within each of the four zones is determined by the risk of flooding and the expected flood damage (prior to the levee improvements)
  • Rates within each zone are determined by property type (residential, agriculture, commercial/industrial, office, institutional) and parcel size
Q: What are the rates in each of the four zones?

It depends upon the property type, but the single-family residential rates for FY 10/11 are as follows:

     South Zone $148.04 per year
     Central A $ 11.33 per year
     Central B $ 32.16 per year
     East $ 11.12 per year

Q: Does the assessment amount stay the same or increase over time?
A: The proposed assessment includes an annual cost of living increase of no more than four percent each year. Any increases must be tied to the Department of Labor Consumer Price Index and would need approval in the annual budgeting process.
Q: Which of the four zones are protected from flooding by which levees?
A: East Zone – Yuba River Levee; Central A – Yuba River Levee and Feather River Levee; Central B – Yuba River Levee and Feather River Levee – depth of flooding is less than Central A; South – all levees.
Q: Maintenance of the levee is an RD 784 problem, so shouldn't this assessment be handled by RD 784?
A: TRLIA has a legal obligation to ensure maintenance of the levees it has improved and thus maintained. It is required to do so by the permits it has received from the State, and pursuant to the funding agreement whereby the State contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the program. Additionally, TRLIA is a joint powers authority of RD 784 & Yuba County, so it is an agent of those entities.
Q: Why is there no Developer money for levee operations and maintenance?
A: The Developers' only commitment was to fund capital improvements (with the exception of the limited $500,000 for operations and maintenance).
Flood Mapping and Flood Insurance
Q: How does the FEMA mapping process work?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for evaluating flood risk throughout the United States. Recent catastrophic floods provided new information about how and why levees fail. FEMA used this information to reevaluate the safety of levees nationwide, including those in South Yuba County.

Results from these evaluations will be used to update FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Rate Maps, the maps that show high-risk and low-risk flood zones. Flood insurance is much less expensive in low-risk flood zones. In high-risk communities, most property owners are required to purchase flood insurance at much higher rates.

Q: How are levee operations and maintenance linked to FEMA mapping and flood insurance?

In order to maintain low-cost flood insurance rates, levee improvements must achieve and maintain accreditation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To maintain FEMA accreditation, levees must be backed by a properly funded operations and maintenance program. The proposed annual assessment will provide the money needed to pay for levee maintenance and operations.


TRLIA Assessment District

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