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Brian Roney: Annexation held for ransom

Posted: May 2, 2009 4:21 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The annexation of the Hasley Hills/Commerce Center areas of Castaic to the city of Santa Clarita has been stalled by recent demands from the county of Los Angeles.

In a recent letter to the Los Angeles Area Local Formation Committee (LAFCO), county CEO William Fujioka admits that the proposed annexation areas "generate significant property taxes, sales taxes and other revenues for the county of Los Angeles."

He further required two conditions for support of the annexation.

First, a revenue-sharing agreement would have to be negotiated. And what does this mean? It means that the county is a greedy, selfish parent who doesn't want its young child to go off to the greener pastures of the city.

This unprecedented action demands a ransom for the annexation approval, as LAFCO will not process the application in the absence of a tax-transfer agreement.

All previous tax-transfer agreements between the city and the county transferred all tax revenue from the 28 other annexed areas.

The county wants the money from these areas at the same time it no longer provides services such as road repairs and park maintenance.

The second condition was related to the transfer of three county parks from previous annexations.

The city has yet to accept three substandard, incomplete parks that also carry deed requirements that would prohibit the city from charging nonresident fees and priority registration, all conditions that the city, and most cities in California, apply throughout their recreation departments for nonresidents.

The county has never put any of these conditions on the other 28 successful annexation applications filed with LAFCO by Santa Clarita.

The recent "Think Santa Clarita Valley" campaign issues highlighted one of the most important differences between the city and the county, which contributed to our efforts to seek annexation.

The city of Santa Clarita spends every tax dollar collected in the city on programs and services in the city.

The county, meanwhile, siphons off 50 percent of tax dollars collected in the unincorporated areas to programs and services outside of this valley.

This was confirmed in a study completed in 2006 with figures supplied by the county proving that revenue for the unincorporated areas totaled $42 million and expenses totaled just $21.4 million, netting the county a cool $20.6 million.

The fairness and equity doctrine seem to be a bit out of whack. Why are our tax dollars leaving the Santa Clarita Valley?

We once again call on Supervisor Michael Antonovich to stand by his word when he stated that he would support the will of the people seeking annexation.

Our community deserves support, rather than obstacles. This annexation filibuster effort has less to do with doing the right thing, as the county supported the 28 other annexations; what it really has to do with is the money that the county is refusing to give up.

We have become a cash cow for a cash-starved bureaucracy. Do the right thing, Mr. Antonovich, support our annexation application without these outrageous ransom demands.

Brian Roney is a Castaic resident and member of the Castaic Annexation Support Team, a grassroots volunteer organization supporting local governance. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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