Increasing Sales Tax Base Raises Prospects For Nipomo Incorporation

(Update: Vote in the online poll here about whether Nipomo should become a city). Today’s Tribune ran an article on the incorporation meeting we had last Tuesday, 11/14/06. The reporter, Larissa Van Beurden-Doust, ldoust@thetribunenews.com, did a very good job reporting on the meeting, even though she wasn’t able to attend. She spoke both with me, as well as Mike Eisner to get a run down of the discussion, and where we are now. Overall I think the article was very positive, and quite accurate.

Nipomo is taking in more sales tax dollars than expected, leading some residents to again call for cityhood.

A study completed nearly two years ago showed Nipomo lacked the revenue to support itself as a city and likely wouldn’t have enough money until 2012 to 2015.

But figures that incorporation proponents discussed last week show Nipomo is several years ahead of sales tax projections. The town took in about $921,000 in sales tax through the end of 2005. The incorporation study estimated that the town would have only $865,004 in sales tax revenue by fiscal year 2007-08.

This sales tax information is accurate and very positive. We are several years ahead of what Michael Davis projected in his initial feasibility study report completed in February 2005. The Davis report projected that for fiscal year 2007/2008 Nipomo would generate approximately 865,000. Instead, in reality, Nipomo, at least two years earlier generated nearly $100,000 more than the projected figure. While overall revenues are still somewhat short, this good sales tax news means that incorporation fiscal feasibility is not as far off as Mr. Davis predicted. If I had to guess, and it’s only a guess, I’d say Nipomo might be fiscally feasible within three years.

Nipomo is still short of what it needs to have a balanced city budget, said incorporation proponents Mike Eisner and Guy Murray. It’s unclear by exactly how much the town is short, though previous estimates showed that 2007-08 figures would have been nearly $600,000 shy of the $7.2 million a city would need.

Additional commercial development planned over the next couple of years — including a motel — likely will mean the town would have enough money once the incorporation process finished in three to five years, Murray said.

“We’re in the red,” Murray said. “But we’ll be in the black in the foreseeable future, at the time we want to incorporate.”

The article correctly points out that one of the major benefits of incorporation would be the ability of local Nipomo residents to make their own land use decisions through a locally elected city council:

Cityhood, incorporation supporters said, would mean decisions on land use, infrastructure and other town needs would be made by residents, instead of five county supervisors who don’t live in town and who don’t drive local streets.

“There are a number of things we could do as a city,” Eisner said. For example, he asked, “Do we like the name Nipomo, or would we like to change it?”

Some people have said they are against incorporation, Murray and Eisner said. They’ve heard from some who believe residents’ taxes will be raised or that cityhood would just add another layer of government.

Murray and Eisner say none of those negatives are true.

Some time after the first of the year, the incorporation committee will meet again, this time in a workshop format to elicit community ideas and support. As more information is available I will post it here. I also suspect that it will be published in the local papers as well.

The article concludes with LAFCO’s involvement and requirements, including the potential costs of a comprehensive feasibility study that will be required.

To share information and decide how to go forward, a workshop is planned in January. The public will be invited to discuss pros and cons of incorporation and help with the planning process. From that workshop, Eisner hopes to get a sense of whether the town wants to incorporate.

Incorporation leaders also plan to involve the Nipomo Community Services District and service organizations in the discussion.

The first steps to incorporation would be identifying possible city boundaries and submitting an application — signed by 25 percent of registered voters or approved by a public agency — to the Local Agency Formation Commission.

LAFCO, a countywide agency that reviews all boundary changes, must approve Nipomo’s incorporation. LAFCO fees are expected to be $150,000 to $200,000.

LAFCO would complete a comprehensive budget analysis, ensuring there is enough money for the city to function. The commission would also help formulate an agreement between the county and Nipomo residents, showing that the break-off will not financially harm the county. LAFCO would also help complete an environmental review.

Once LAFCO has approved incorporation, a majority of Nipomo residents would have to support the idea in a popular election.

I believe the Adobe Press plans to run their own incorporation article, which I will also post on Nipomo News. Feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have.

More tax dollars restart talk of Nipomo cityhood

By Larissa Van Beurden-Doust

ldoust@thetribunenews.com

Nipomo is taking in more sales tax dollars than expected, leading some residents to again call for cityhood.

A study completed nearly two years ago showed Nipomo lacked the revenue to support itself as a city and likely wouldn’t have enough money until 2012 to 2015.

But figures that incorporation proponents discussed last week show Nipomo is several years ahead of sales tax projections. The town took in about $921,000 in sales tax through the end of 2005. The incorporation study estimated that the town would have only $865,004 in sales tax revenue by fiscal year 2007-08.

Some residents have for about seven years discussed forming a local government in Nipomo. The idea would be to give Nipomo residents direct control of planning, land-use and infrastructure decisions.

Efforts faded after the state said newly incorporated cities were not entitled to money collected from automobile-registration fees. Now that revenue projections are better, though, incorporation proponents want to start the process.

Nipomo is still short of what it needs to have a balanced city budget, said incorporation proponents Mike Eisner and Guy Murray. It’s unclear by exactly how much the town is short, though previous estimates showed that 2007-08 figures would have been nearly $600,000 shy of the $7.2 million a city would need.

Additional commercial development planned over the next couple of years — including a motel — likely will mean the town would have enough money once the incorporation process finished in three to five years, Murray said.

“We’re in the red,” Murray said. “But we’ll be in the black in the foreseeable future, at the time we want to incorporate.”

Cityhood, incorporation supporters said, would mean decisions on land use, infrastructure and other town needs would be made by residents, instead of five county supervisors who don’t live in town and who don’t drive local streets.

“There are a number of things we could do as a city,” Eisner said. For example, he asked, “Do we like the name Nipomo, or would we like to change it?”

Some people have said they are against incorporation, Murray and Eisner said. They’ve heard from some who believe residents’ taxes will be raised or that cityhood would just add another layer of government.

Murray and Eisner say none of those negatives are true.

To share information and decide how to go forward, a workshop is planned in January. The public will be invited to discuss pros and cons of incorporation and help with the planning process. From that workshop, Eisner hopes to get a sense of whether the town wants to incorporate.

Incorporation leaders also plan to involve the Nipomo Community Services District and service organizations in the discussion.

The first steps to incorporation would be identifying possible city boundaries and submitting an application — signed by 25 percent of registered voters or approved by a public agency — to the Local Agency Formation Commission.

LAFCO, a countywide agency that reviews all boundary changes, must approve Nipomo’s incorporation. LAFCO fees are expected to be $150,000 to $200,000.

LAFCO would complete a comprehensive budget analysis, ensuring there is enough money for the city to function. The commission would also help formulate an agreement between the county and Nipomo residents, showing that the break-off will not financially harm the county. LAFCO would also help complete an environmental review.

Once LAFCO has approved incorporation, a majority of Nipomo residents would have to support the idea in a popular election.

Should Nipomo become a city?

Go to sanluisobispo.com to vote in a poll.

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