http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2009/05/22/alamo-committee-discusses-disbanding


DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - May 22, 2009

Alamo committee discusses disbanding

Members looking for more information from county

by Geoff Gillette

Frustration over anemic revenues and growing expenses led the members of Alamo's Zone 36 committee to consider disbanding this week. The committee had its regular meeting Tuesday at Hap Magee Ranch Park, but the only item on the agenda was a discussion about allowing the committee to disband; however, they chose to hold off on a vote pending more information from Contra Costa County.

Zone 36 is one of 40 such zones throughout the county created by the Lighting and Landscaping Act. The various zones are funded through a charge per parcel. Many of the zones have no citizen oversight and are run by the county. In Alamo, however, the Zone 36 committee meets periodically to discuss areas of concern and potential projects.

Committee Chairwoman Alicia Watson said due to the lack of funding, none of the plans ever go far.

"I'm extremely frustrated. I have no clue as to how the money has disappeared," she stated. "It makes me wonder about the value of this committee."

Committee member Steve Mick added that the committee is hampered by the fact that it receives very little revenue.

"We have the lowest revenue per parcel in the county," he said. "Right now we're at $9.36 per parcel." Annually, the revenue for Zone 36 comes out to only $54,000.

What little funding they have seems to be used up before it can go toward any projects in Alamo. "We have only done one project since I've been on the committee," Watson said.

Mick said that there was an effort to raise the amount of funding for the zone that was put to the voters. In a mail-in ballot, voters were asked to increase the per parcel fee up to $44. The request was defeated, which left the Zone 36 committee able to do very little.

"If the citizens of Alamo had seen fit to increase our revenues, we'd be in wonderful shape. Right now, we're at a point where we have almost zero ability to initiate any kind of beautification project of any size," Mick explained.

That inability to mount any large scale projects within the zone led the members to consider asking Supervisor Mary N. Piepho to allow the committee to disperse. At their May 19 meeting, though, they chose to hold off on that course of action.

"We were convinced by the people who showed up to give it another shot. We're going to gather more information, and we're confident that the supervisor is going to listen to us," Mick said. These people were former members of the committee who came to the meeting to tell something about its history.

Watson said they agreed to hold off on voting to disband because they have questions for the county that need answers. They are asking for more information regarding the financing and expenditures taking place in Zone 36, including how much money is coming in and where it is being used.

One area in particular they would like addressed is the cost allocations for a state-mandated annual engineering report. Currently, Alamo pays about one quarter of the cost for the yearly study, which encompasses the entire county.

"Our little committee is being asked to pay 26 percent of the cost of the study," Watson said.

Mick added, "That is based on the number of parcels in the district. To my way of thinking that is not a good way to calculate cost."

Rather than vote on the proposal to disband, the committee chose to hold off until its June 9 meeting. Watson said even if the committee votes in favor she's not certain that there is a process for a committee choosing to disperse. She added, "The committee members are all free to resign."

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