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Springs Splash - October 2015 - Thomas Martin

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Springs Splash - October 2015 - Thomas Martin

by Tom Martin

October Springs Calendar

October 8, Thursday – Town Hall Meeting at Charter School, 7 p.m. Sponsored By The Springs Community Alliance Agenda: Your issues, plus the ”Hub” or Plaza, Highway 12,  Economic Development, and Code Enforcement (piles of trash, vacation rentals, fire hazardous rubbish and abandoned cars….)

October 17, Saturday – Springs Community Potluck Party, Larson Park, Noon to 4 p.m. Everyone is invited. Bring the family, neighbors, and your favorite dish. Build the Springs community! Sponsored by the Springs Community Alliance.

October 17, Saturday, 9 – 1 p.m. – Meeting on future of SDC, Hanna Boys Center

Should the Springs become a city? What’s involved?  
Recently there’s been talk about the four Springs’ “communities” of Fetters, Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, and El Verano joining to incorporate as a city.

Why incorporate?

Usually communities come together to vote on incorporation because citizens have a desire for greater self determination, independence, and community identity. Often residents desire more services than they receive from the county. 

How to Incorporate?

Those interested in reviewing the steps to incorporation may visit the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research for details at OPR.ca.gov/docs/LAFCO_appendices_Final.pdf. For starters this website recommends visiting the County LAFCO Office (www.sonomalafco.org). The County LAFCO Chair is Mark Bramfitt, a local resident. 

The building blocks of incorporation involve local organization, determining revenue sources, establishing boundaries, and obtaining voter approval. It will be interesting to see if the “talk” of incorporation evolves into an organization for cityhood. It’s a large task and requires money. Are there residents ready to undertake such a task? 

Taxes and Revenues are the engine of incorporation….

Among the major steps towards incorporation is a requirement that a community submit a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) to the County Local Agency Formation commission (LAFCO). The CFA must show revenue sources for the new city. 

Proposition 13 limits the level of property tax revenues. Other revenue sources are sales taxes, fees, and licenses. Locally the Springs would have the option of obtaining TOT taxes from visiting guests. Economic development along Highway 12 is predicted upon completion of construction. Currently there are two construction sites for new businesses underway as well as the Mid-pen housing development. Are there stores and facilities in place to service newcomers needs? 

A cautionary tale….

Jurupa (and three other cities) in Riverside County voted in 2011 to incorporate. Simultaneously the California Legislature passed SB 89 transferring all vehicle license fees from “new” cities to the State. Jurupa

lost 50% of its revenues. The cities turned to the county for loans. This year’s budget bill (SB 107) relieves Riverside County of $24 million owed by the four cities and reduces Riverside County’s obligations for Cal Fire protection. A separate bill SB 25 (Roth) gives the four cities, but no other new cities, the ability to collect vehicle license fees. SB 25 is on the Governor’s desk. 

Boundaries….

What boundaries would you propose for a new “Springs” city? What to include? Exclude? Petaluma Road to Agua Caliente, Arnold east to Norrbom Road? Other? This sensitive issue surely would affect the vote result.  

The voters must approve….

In 1992 Windsor voters approved cityhood. A simple majority is required. 

Conversely, the town of Mendocino on the northcoast  has voted five times unsuccessfully (1904-1988) to incorporate. The initial incorporation issues were to eliminate slot machines, “Billy” Grotz’s saloon, and lewd activity. The proposal failed by a 2/3 vote. In 1988 The Mendocino Beacon reported the issues were too many billboards, beautification, water supply, and sewage. Absentee ballots determined the outcome. The moral is to be prepared when considering incorporation. 

Disincorporation….

Cities as disparate as Seneca Falls, N.Y. (6635 residents) and Miami, Fla. moved to disincorporate. Seneca Falls, founded in 1887, dissolved. Miami was denied a return to governing by Dade County. According to Michelle W. Anderson (Yale Law School Journal, 2012) that in the U.S. since 1995, “373 cities have dissolved – more than the number… dissolved in the hundred years before that.” Anderson claims dissolution revolves around five themes, decline of city, taxes, reform demands, race, and community. 

If a new city is to arise along Sonoma Creek a grand venture lies before us. 

Let’s watch and listen with interest.