http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/04/11/alamo-meeting-talks-taxes-and-services


Danville Express

Newsfront - April 11, 2008

Alamo meeting talks taxes and services

Incorporation movement leaders answer questions on roads, parks and more

by Meghan Neal

Alamo residents who don't think incorporation is a good idea either didn't show up at the Alamo Incorporation Movement's community meeting Tuesday, or they kept their mouths shut as the group touted the benefits of becoming an independent town.

A few dozen people attended the meeting. Most of those who asked questions didn't take a stance one way or the other, but sought more information on specific topics like maintaining roads and parks, the makeup of the would-be city government, and tax revenue.

Some residents were concerned that taxes would be raised to fund running the town, since Alamo doesn't take in a lot of commercial sales tax and property taxes are relatively low.

AIM spokesman Chris Kenber said if Alamo were to incorporate, the town council could propose an increase - most likely on landscape or lighting taxes - but it would need a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

"People care a lot about taxes," resident Grace Schmidt said after the meeting. "I think it was made pretty clear that a new city council cannot willy-nilly just raise your taxes."

As far as parks, roads and traffic are concerned, AIM members said the best way to maintain and improve conditions is with local management. They said the county has historically been very slow at making changes in Alamo, citing broken street lights and traffic lights that have taken years to fix.

Moreover, it would make sense to get out from under the county's wing while it's in such a financial pickle.

"The county desperately needs to improve its tax base," Kenber said. And if it can't raise the money by upping taxes it will presumably cut services, which could hurt Alamo.

AIM members urged anyone worried about the financial feasibility of incorporation to be patient. State studies by the Local Agency Formation Commission are currently under way, which will determine if Alamo can pull off a township.

The LAFCO results will be made public in June; if they are positive then Alamo residents will vote on incorporation, most likely in the March 2009 election. Until then, any debate over if Alamo can afford the change would be futile, the group said.

If it does come to a vote next March, residents will simultaneously vote on a city council, so there would be a government ready to go if incorporation passed. Kenber said it's time for people to start thinking about if they'd be interested in running for these positions.

Some aspects of the would-be government are determined by the state: Alamo would be required to have a council, town manager, city clerk and city attorney, for example. Others would be up to the elected officials.

"I think it's good that these issues keep getting out there, because they're complicated," said Schmidt. "Not too much can be said about them."

Comments

Posted by Cece Daly, a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2008 at 8:42 am

Clarfication for Ms. Meghan Neal,

Your comment: Alamo residents who don't think incorporation is a good idea either didn't show up at the Alamo Incorporation Movement's community meeting Tuesday, or they kept their mouths shut as the group touted the benefits of becoming an independent town.

Your answers: In focus polling within the AIM boundaries April 9 and 10, opposition to incorporation in Alamo is less than 18% of residents. Opposition to the AIM incorporation proposal due to lack of definition of the proposed government is 45%. Firm support for AIM's incorporation proposal is 9%. 28% responded that they were undecided.

This contrasts to various focus polling in December through February. 26% opposed incorporation, 48% opposed the AIM incorporation proposal, 14% firmly supported AIM's incorporation proposal and 12% responded that they were undecided.

Analysis of response indicates that shifts to undecided are created by a loss of interest in incorporation because no clear benefit has been established and no difference exists in comparison to county services, present and future.

Cece Daly, CCE San Ramon

Posted from Diablo Vista region e-exchanges