http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/10/17/lafco-to-reconsider-alamo-incorporation-vote


Danville Express

Newsfront - October 17, 2008

LAFCO to reconsider Alamo incorporation vote

New hearing set for Tuesday in Martinez

by Geoff Gillette

The ongoing debate over whether Alamo should become a town is going back before the Local Agency Formation Commission.

LAFCO Executive Officer Lou Ann Texeira said the commission has received a formal request for reconsideration of its Sept. 18 decision to put the Alamo incorporation question on the ballot.

Under county code, residents have the right to submit a request for consideration within 30 days of a vote. The request can only be made if new information, not available at the time of the hearing, can be presented. A fee of $2,500 must also be paid with the request.

Texeira confirmed that the request for consideration came from incorporation opponent Jean Taylor.

In her request for reconsideration, Taylor listed 10 points on which the commission should grant the request. Many of the points reiterate what has been said by the opposition all along but Taylor also questioned the process and said that the commission voted arbitrarily to approve it due to an inflated sense of urgency.

As explained at the hearing, timing was a critical element in the original vote Sept 18. The commission needed to make a decision at the hearing due to concerns about the loss of vehicle licensing fees if Gov. Schwarzenegger denied Senate Bill 301. If the governor did not sign the legislation, it would have put a sunset on any licensing fees for towns that incorporated after June 30, 2009.

However on Sept. 30 the governor did sign SB 301, extending the licensing fees and eliminating the time crunch.

Taylor also pointed to the decision by commission member Martin McNair to change his vote to a Yes after the incorporation request failed by a 3-2 margin. Taylor's letter reads, "If the Commissioner had been unable to change his vote, the proposal for voting on an incorporation of Alamo would have failed. This would be a widely different result than what actually transpired."

Taylor said that she could find no mention in LAFCO policies that dealt with a commissioner changing his or her vote after a result was announced.

Another opponent, Robert Myhre, said he was glad to hear about the request. Myhre said he believes the commission should reconsider its approval due to the fiscal turmoil at both a state and federal level.

He added that he feels the estimates of state funding made in the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis could not possibly have accounted for such a drastic economic downturn. This in turn could leave the fledgling town with a serious fiscal shortfall.

Alamo Incorporation Movement (AIM) member Vicki Koc said she feels the issues brought up by those against incorporation have been answered many times.

"We think that the hearings that have taken place have gone a long way to answering those questions," she said, adding that many of the answers to questions regarding the fiscal analysis and other areas called into question can be found on AIM's Web Site, www.alamoinc.org.

Koc said she is hopeful that the commission will uphold its decision and allow the voters of Alamo to decide whether or not they should be a town. "I just think it would be unfortunate if a small group would keep this off the ballot," she said.

Texeira said the commission has not determined that the additional concerns raised in the request for reconsideration have merit but said a hearing has been scheduled at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Board of Supervisors' building in Martinez.

Texeira said LAFCO will be examining the request to see if there is any information that was not presented at the September hearing. She said that first and foremost the commission must decide whether Taylor's request is valid. If it does indeed carry new, as yet unseen, information then the commission has a number of options.

"If the commission finds the request for consideration valid then they would have to decide what action they want to take," she said. "Whether they want to reverse their decision or continue the matter and require more analysis. Or retain their approval but amend the LAFCO resolution."

Another factor to be considered is the number of special elections on the annual calendar. In order for the issue to be on the March 3 ballot, the County Board of Supervisors must approve the Incorporation request by Oct. 28. The next special election available on the calendar after that would be June 2, 2009.

Both sides in the incorporation debate have said they are planning to attend the Oct. 21 hearing.

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