Danville Express

Perspective - December 5, 2008

Letters to the editor

Economy too bad to incorporate

Dear Editor:

One would have to be deaf, dumb or blind not to know our economy is in bad shape. That reason alone would tell us not to incorporate the small area of Alamo. Danville is over 10 times* as large, with lots of businesses to help with sales tax.

The pioneer family I married into entered Alamo in 1846, and the Stones soon thereafter. We know any government is only as good, or as bad, as those who govern it.

Think wisely before you make up your mind.

Virgie V. Jones, more than 60-year Alamo resident

*Editor's Note: Danville's population is almost 43,000; Alamo's population is 15,186.

Facts are in fiscal analysis

Dear Editor:

Reading the independent, state-contracted Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of Alamo incorporation is a must for Alamo citizens who want to maintain Alamo's quality of life and their own property values.

The CFA, available at www.contracostalafco.org, makes it clear that Alamo would be one of the fiscally healthier incorporated jurisdictions in California. We are lucky to have well over 200 sales tax-generating businesses (not counting Yardbirds, which was closed during the study), and multiple increases in latent property tax revenues - artificially constrained by Proposition 13 until low-turnover Alamo properties come on the market. Contra Costa County now spends this money wherever it chooses.

Alamo would also be far from the smallest town in California; 170 incorporated California cities have less population than Alamo, according to the League of California Cities.

Furthermore, Alamo roads are rated in top condition in the CFA, so that town roads-fund surpluses could finance any resurfacing. Also, the county's certified costs of Alamo law enforcement used in the CFA were for base year '05-'06, and the county has reduced its law enforcement budget three times since then.

Fact-finding is the hallmark of the CFA. Hopefully Alamo voters will look to facts in determining their vote on Alamo incorporation.

Bee Hylinsk, Alamo

Better economically to incorporate

Dear Editor:

The independently produced Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of Alamo incorporation is a conservative document. It reports the audited, county-certified costs, including law enforcement, that Contra Costa County presently spends on services to Alamo and adjusts those costs for inflation for 10 years.

It adds the state-required 10 percent surplus and conservatively adds another 10 percent contingency to protect against any low cost projections.

It itemizes the revenues reported by the state and the county that would come to an incorporated Alamo, adjusting those revenues for inflation at a lower rate than the inflation rate for costs.

It shows "a healthier-than-average nest egg" (San Ramon Valley Times, Aug. 9, 2008) in all funds for the new town - general fund, roads fund, and parks fund - for 10 years.

It is the only state-managed CFA ever performed on a community looking to incorporate in Contra Costa County.

Contra Costa County, Alamo's present local government, recently disclosed a $1.7 billion unfunded liability for employee benefits. It must cut services and dramatically increase revenue-generating development in the unincorporated areas to struggle to stay fiscally afloat.

In the current economic climate, I will vote, for fiscal reasons, to incorporate Alamo.

Jeanne Tate, Alamo

Comments

Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2008 at 7:35 am

Dear Dolores,

Campaign statements should not be the basis of financial discovery concerning governments and proposed governments in our region. As a journalist, it should be your obligation to review the details of county and city financials including the financial claims for the proposed town of Alamo.

As campaigns ramp their letters to the editor campaigns, your readers will suffer through rewrites of the same proponent and opponent omissions that misrepresent incorporation.

Once again, very savvy residents of our region know the State will withhold certain revenue-sharing from counties and cities and your readers want to know how that impacts affordable government operations. State sales tax revenue is down significantly and documented for your display. Contract services provided to governments are going up due to county, city and district budget issues.

This is readily available through governments' disclosure and should be part of your excellent journalism. Tell the story, Dolores, please, and don't let campaign letters be a substitute for journalism.

Hal


Posted by Steve Mick, a resident of Alamo
on Dec 5, 2008 at 1:22 pm

Hi Dolores,

On the other hand, an article in USA Today reports that "Property tax haul climbs as values fall." The lead sentence in the story is, "Property taxes are rising across the USA despite the steepest drop in home values since the Great Depression."

Read the full article by clicking on the web link

Web Link


Kindest Regards,

Steve Mick
Alamo Town Council Candidate


Posted by Hal Bailey, a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Steve makes an excellent point, Dolores, but we need to understand the limits of increases allowed by Proposition 13. Such increases must offset nearly a quarter of the town budget if the State withholds various revenue sharing and sales tax declines in our business region.

Sharon Burke appropriately pointed to THD YardBIRDS not being included in the CFA sales tax revenues. Today's analysis of sales tax revenue decline offsets the YardBIRDS ommission and shows a decline below projected CFA levels. Such State figures are available by designate geography and can be validated.

Most importantly, thanks to Steve Mick for being inclusive in discussion of revenues for the proposed city government. So let us invite Steve to provide his analysis of the cost side of the CFA and the documented increases that will be charged for contract services in 2009/2010 by all alternatives for police, public works, etc.

Our neighbors understand that we will PAY our way out of this financial crisis. Neighbors only wish to know the increases in cost and the best government alternative for maximizing services and minimizing costs.

Let's keep the discussion going!

Hal


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