http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2007/12/28/letters-to-the-editor


Danville Express

Perspective - December 28, 2007

Letters to the editor

Change coming for Alamo

Dear Editor:

I have read Phil Erickson's decrying the need for incorporation in Alamo. It appears his attitude is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It may not be broke right now, but it will be soon.

Yes, Alamo is a wonderful place to live. No, we don't want a lot to change. But change is happening. It will pick up speed in the next few years, and the vast majority of that change will not be good for Alamo.

All of Alamo's services are provided by Contra Costa County. Many of these services are great or at least adequate. But the county is siphoning off money from our Alamo tax dollars to pay for services to the less fortunate sectors of the county, and every year that amount is increasing. Furthermore, the county's pension and health care plans are projected to be unable to pay their mandated benefits as early as three years from now. The county is a huge, inefficient bureaucracy. It has many more employees now providing services to Alamo than we will need if incorporated. All of them draw benefits when they get sick or retire. Where do you think the county is going to get the money to pay them?

If we incorporate, we will still contract with the county for some of our services, such as the Sheriff's Department, and initially, the Building Department, parks and recreation, etc. Alamo's government will be lean, and gradually we will take over things the county provides to us at vast expense but we feel we can do more efficiently.

The incorporation study found there will be a surplus of tax money for at least the first three years after incorporation and maybe longer, and we can sustain ourselves on our tax base for many years to come.

Belinda Hylinski, Alamo

Comments

Posted by CDSI Research Fellowship, a resident of another community
on Dec 28, 2007 at 9:22 am

Let's be fair!

The commentary by many, including Phil Erickson, illustrates the primary issue of AIM's incorporation proposal as establishment of an autonomous government led by a city (town) counsel that has no defined obligation to citizens' participation or advisory. The AIM incorporation proposal simply provides another layer of government in Alamo that is dependent on the services, and costs of services, from Contra Costa County.

Clearly, costs in the county are going up, including pensions, and those costs will be covered by increased service fees whether Alamo is a city or remains a unincorporated community. In analysis for CCC-BOS, county administrator reports county services to cities will be the most costly because they are unique and specified separately from levels of service to the broader county communities and neighborhoods. If the City (town) of Alamo attempts to replace those services with their own contractors and administration, the costs of such small contracts and increased administration will add similar or greater service cost increases to Alamo residents' monthly bills.

Most important to Alamo residents, once incorporated and an autonomous city council is elected, we will have no defined voice in our government for four years. The first city (town) council can establish the structure and operations of the city, the services provided, and their costs to residents without any vote or other resident input.

There are many reasons to support incorporation of the City of Alamo as a defined government structure of citizens' commissions and committees. There is little reason to support incorporation that does not provide that result.

Posted as a courtesy of CDSI Research Fellowship


Posted by Alamo Ron, a resident of Alamo
on Dec 31, 2007 at 9:07 am

I thought we went through all this in another area of the Town Forums.

What in blazes is an "autonomous city counsel?" The writer seems to think the counsel will be elected for life. Show me another city in California that elects its government for life terms.

The writer also seems to think that the new town government will not appoint citizens advisory committees and commissions. Again, show me another city in California that does not appoint its citizens to a myriad of different advisory groups and commissions.

Does the writer really think that the good folks of Alamo will stand by and watch this happen?

Let's face it, organizing and running a town is pretty complex and a lot of work. Alamo will need everyone's help.


Posted by Oxymo Ron, a resident of another community
on Dec 31, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Welcome back, Alamo Ron,

As you re-read the CDSI comments, you will note that term is four years, but the possibilities of autonomous structuring of the city of Alamo for regional special interests might warrant a life sentence. As you appropriately note, the good folks are not standing by and settling for an autonomous government and that is evident in the level of comments and concerns currently voiced by Alamo neighbors.

The real issue covered in response was the cost of contract services to a city versus a county region. What are your thoughts on that subject, Ron?

Smile Ron, we celebrate the thoughts you provoke with your good humor.

Happy new year,

Ox


Posted by Susan West, a resident of another community
on Jan 1, 2008 at 10:34 am

Dear Hal/CDSI, thanks for CDSI REFERENCES for neighbors' review.

The answers to Alamo Ron's request for examples were listed at www.cacities.org. Without being charter cities, many California cities are citizen-led with defined commissions and committees created by voter nominations and other majority selection methods.

RESEARCH RESOURCES for understanding the incorporation process:

Access www.calafco.org, click on RESOURCES, and then click on the following files:

#1 - Guide to the LAFCo Process for Incorporation (pdf)

#2 - Guide to the LAFCo Process for Incorporation Appendices (pdf)

Then if you want to know more about how general law cities are required to be structured and staffed, and the options available, review California Municipal Law Handbook which is available at the reference desk of the library or through www.cacities.org.

If you are still willing to pursue more research and understanding, google Santa Clara County LAFCo, Riverside County LAFCo, and San Mateo County LAFCo. You will find examples of citizen-led governments and how they are structured under General Law.

Happy new year!

Susan West
Iron Horse North greater neighborhoods

Posted with permission of the authors