http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2007/08/24/guest-opinion-sorting-fact-from-fiction-on-alamo-cityhood


Danville Express

Perspective - August 24, 2007

Guest opinion: Sorting fact from fiction on Alamo cityhood

by Michael Gibson

The reason the Alamo Incorporation Movement (AIM) has focused on incorporating Alamo is the same as it was for other successful local cities: They incorporated to provide better planning and control of their own land use, roadways and other infrastructure and better levels of municipal services than provided under county governance.

The record shows clearly that incorporation works. Ask your friends in Danville, San Ramon, Moraga, Lafayette, Orinda, Clayton or any other nearby city that was smaller when it incorporated than Alamo is now, whether their roads or parks were better provided and maintained by the County than they are now. Ask any who live in a town that was incorporated after Propositions 13 and 218 whether their local taxes or assessments have been increased without a vote, or at all, since incorporation. Ask them if they liked the County's planning, building or roadway decisions better than those that their city or town has made or if they preferred their decision-makers having little or no electoral accountability to them. Ask them if they wish their town had never been incorporated. Overwhelmingly they will say no.

Recent letter writers to the Danville Weekly raised concerns about how incorporation would affect Alamo that conflict with the easily available facts. Some claim that Alamo couldn't afford to provide service levels equal to or better than the County and that these services can be provided more cost effectively by county government than town government. Some claim Alamo would need staff or facilities that it couldn't afford and that residents would see tax increases and increased bureaucracy.

Fortunately there's an easy way to answer these claims - by reading the Initial Fiscal Analysis of the Proposed Incorporation of Alamo (IFA), by Economic and Planning Systems (available at www.alamoinc.org). This is the only credible, unbiased set of facts available to the Alamo community. It calculates a 10-year revenue stream based upon actual data. It presents a preliminary service plan, staffing plan and estimates of costs based upon actual costs and staffing for the three nearby towns of Lafayette, Moraga and Clayton. It shows that funds are available, without the need for new taxes, to provide services equal to or greater than now provided under County governance. These funds would be used exclusively in Alamo. The IFA provides for modest but sufficient leased office and meeting facilities within already existing buildings. As most cities and counties contract for capital improvements such as roads and parks, and often for maintenance improvements as well, maintenance or storage yards are not needed.

The IFA, prepared by an experienced and objective outside consulting firm with broad knowledge of local government, shows that Alamo would generate an operating surplus over the next 10 years while providing better service levels than currently available from the county. Together with other benefits of incorporation, including Alamo's ability to determine its own future, elect its own council and implement its own vision, this makes a compelling case for incorporation.

The incorporation process must be initiated by a petition of 25 percent of Alamo's registered voters, due to kick off momentarily. It's important to note that a successful petition does not authorize incorporation. It does authorize the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), an independent State agency, to conduct a legally required feasibility study and determine, with detailed public input, the boundary, revenues, staffing, costs, etc., for Alamo. With a few options, the initial structure of new city/town governments is prescribed by State law. These structural determinations are also part of the public LAFCO process.

The information already available from the IFA is sufficient to justify your decision to support beginning the LAFCO process. So, when asked by one of your fellow residents to sign the petition, I hope you will sign it so that you can get further facts on Alamo incorporation, and give yourself and your neighbors the final say. We are convinced this is the right path for Alamo and that a full examination of the facts will convince a broad majority of our fellow Alamo citizens.

Michael Gibson, a member of the Alamo Incorporation Movement, has lived in Alamo for 22 years. He has served on the Board of the Alamo Improvement Association for 21 years and the San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission for 13 years.

Comments

Posted by Mark Sanders, a resident of Alamo
on Aug 24, 2007 at 8:53 am

Dear Editor,

I was wondering.

Is Mr. Gibson running for city council? He seems to be running for something with his all-too-political commentary.

Maybe The Danville Weekly could offer other sources for incorporation review. Like most Alamo neighbors, I would not want to simply rely on a study that Mr. Gibson and his fellow committee members paid for.

Mark