City may help pay for study of west side

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – With county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich pledging some $25,000 to help west-side communities study their finances and governance options, the city might get into the game tonight, matching the pledge by helping to pay for an annexation study. It’s not yet known if key moneymakers – a shopping center, an industrial park and a theme park – would be part of the package, but Santa Clarita officials deem the stakes worthy of paying to play. “The future of the city of Santa Clarita is tied to the direction taken by the entire Santa Clarita Valley,” City Treasurer Darren Hernandez said Monday. “We believe it is in the best interests of everyone to look at this issue from all the options and perspectives.” A recent study underwritten by Santa Clarita appears to show a large surplus for county government between what it collects in tax revenue and spends on services for areas outside the city. But officials acknowledge the study was not tailored to answer questions related to annexation to Santa Clarita or creation of a new city. State law requires a region considering cityhood to conduct a fiscal analysis to determine if there’s a large enough tax base to support a city government. Key moneymakers within the proposed west-side city in the area of Castaic, Westridge and Stevenson Ranch are the Valencia Marketplace shopping center, the Valencia Commerce Center industrial park and Six Flags California’s Magic Mountain. The boundaries of the area under study haven’t been set, but a map could be drawn by March or April, said Dave Bossert, president of the West Ranch Town Council. The Newhall Land and Farming Company has resisted efforts to have its undeveloped real estate in a city, stating its satisfaction with the county planning process. Newhall Land is building the 21,000-home Newhall Ranch project, west of Valencia and stretching to the Ventura County line. Also, Newhall Land, which built and sold the Valencia Marketplace, included in the deed that the center should refuse annexation to an existing city or inclusion in a new one. During Santa Clarita’s formation battles, several developers opposed its creation, preferring what likely would be less stringent requirements under county policies. Historically, cities have formed in Southern California with hopes of gaining control over growth. The town council plans to hire an independent consultant to determine how much tax revenue is generated in the target area and whether forming a west-side city makes sense. The city’s overture could be a piece of the puzzle, distinct from and following the initial effort, said Dave Bossert, president of the town council. “If the city wants to allocate $25,000 to do a study on annexation versus incorporation, we would be happy to take the donation and commission a separate independent study that does a comparison (between the two),” said Bossert, on a town council committee formed to explore the options. “We want to educate the community. We don’t want somebody who’s going to say annexation is the panacea.” At issue are what revenue the county collects and spends on services, what revenue a new city would collect and incur in debts, and what revenues an annexed area would generate and cost Santa Clarita. A law passed in 1992 ensures counties don’t suffer financially when new cities form. Sales tax revenues feed into city coffers, but counties and new cities may negotiate how property tax revenues are split. The county Board of Supervisors collects taxes countywide and provides services based on need, said Martin Zimmerman, assistant administrative officer for the county Office of Unincorporated Area Services and Special Projects. “I don’t believe the county has ever budgeted by unincorporated area,” he said, noting that costs to provide services to unincorporated areas don’t necessarily match taxes collected there. “If any community thinks they can do better or be better situated if they are part of an adjacent city – or if they believe they want to incorporate – (we’ll provide the information) they need to make those decisions.” Santa Clarita officials may try to sway west-side residents with the absence of utility-users tax – charged for gas, electricity, telephone and cell-phone services – for which the county charges 5 percent. The city has successfully completed 28 annexations since being incorporated in 1987. (661) 257-5255 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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