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The future of Arden Arcade’s relationship with Sacramento County is one of the most contentious local issues in the Nov. 2 election.
Measure D asks voters to choose whether Arcade Arcade should leave the county and become a city. Two passionate campaigns have debated for months whether a 98,000-person Arden Arcade community should have a city government with a city council.
The Sacramento Press is providing the following summary of three key subjects in the Arcade Arcade fight: a guide to the opposing campaigns, what the county’s financial relationship would be with a new city, and an exploration of campaign claims that the city of Sacramento wants to annex Arden Arcade.
The proposed city of Arden Arcade would consist of land bordered “on the west and north by the Sacramento city limits, on the north by Auburn Boulevard and the centerline of Winding Way, on the east by the centerline of Jacob Lane and Mission Avenue and its northerly extension to the centerline of Cypress Avenue, and on the south by the centerline of the American River,” according to the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission.
A city of Arden Arcade “may be fiscally feasible,” according to an April 30 fiscal study conducted by Willdan Financial Services for the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission.
Supporters of Measure D argue that cityhood would benefit Arden Arcade because it would give the community more local control and take it out of the county’s jurisdiction.
Joel Archer, formerly a coordinator of the Arden Arcade incorporation effort and currently a city council candidate for the prospective city, said local control would ensure “our businesses are encouraged.”
Archer also claimed that the county has not provided adequate law enforcement and appropriate planning for Arden Arcade. The community has faced “a lack of attention” from Sacramento County, he said.
The campaign cites recent Sacramento County budget woes to make its claim that Arden Arcade needs improved public safety services.
But the U.S. Department of Justice announced in September that it would give the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department $21.4 million. The department intends to bring back 50 deputies with the money, according to a statement from Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness.
Meanwhile, Measure D opponents defend the county’s service to Arden Arcade in the areas of transportation, utilities and community planning.
Mike Duveneck, chairman of the No on Measure D campaign, said a new city would be hard-pressed to have adequate revenues because of the recession. Duveneck also claimed that the new city would add an unnecessary second level of government.
“We think it’s just a risk in a lot of ways that we can’t afford to take,” he said.
On the campaign contributions front, Yes on Measure D took in $44,521 from Jan. 1 to Oct. 16. The campaign’s supporters include the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, which contributed $400 in September.
The Yes on D campaign has received several small contributions from candidates for the prospective Arcade Arcade City Council. Candidates are running for city council seats that would only be created if voters approve cityhood.
The No on Measure D side garnered $95,898 in contributions during the same period. A large chunk of the No on Measure D camp’s money came from a $50,000 contribution in September from the Plumbers and Pipefitters union, Local 447. The California Association of Highway Patrolmen contributed $3,000 to No on D in October.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services to Arden Arcade, appears to be split on cityhood. While the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association supports Yes on D, Sheriff John McGinness opposes it.
How would Sacramento County work with a city of Arden Arcade?
The backers of Measure D and the county government were the two parties that worked out the financial terms between a city of Arden Arcade and Sacramento County, said Rob Leonard, the county’s economic development director.
The two parties developed an agreement to cover the county’s financial losses from Arden Arcade cityhood.
Over a 25-year period, the county would lose nearly $217 million since it would no longer receive Arden Arcade’s revenues, according to a May 18 county document.
Agreements for two cities that incorporated in the past said the county should receive yearly payments from the new city each year for 25 years, the document states. But the document explains that the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees the creation of new local governments, does not expect Arden Arcade to be able to pay 100 percent of its property taxes to the county each year for 25 years.
So, the commission called for Arden Arden to pay 90 percent of its property taxes to the county every year over an unlimited period of time, the document states. The commission also bumped up the amount that Arden Arcade would owe the county – the city would owe the county $219 million instead of $217 milllion, according to the document.
It’s estimated that it would take between 30 and 40 years for Arden Arcade to pay the total amount to the county, Leonard said.
“You’ll pay that for however many years it takes you to get to that 219,” Leonard said.
The financial terms were hashed out between the Arden Arcade city supporters and the county, but they were approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission, Leonard said.
The Arden Arcade city proponents worked with the county on the financial terms, but the city of Arden Arcade will be the entity required to pay back the county, according to Leonard.
If the city of Arden Arcade cannot make its payments, the two parties could end up in court, Leonard said.
Arden Arcade and Sacramento: A dispute over annexation
Those in favor of Arden Arcade cityhood believe Sacramento will try to annex Arden Arcade in the future. Supporters have made this one of their main points to try to sway voters.
But city officials strongly disagree with the campaign’s claims.
The debate centers around Sacramento’s general plan, a long-term planning blueprint.
The March 2009 version of Sacramento’s general plan says a possible annexation of Arden Arcade should be studied at some point over the next 20 years, Sacramento’s New Growth Manager Scot Mende said. To date, the city has not studied the possibility of Arden Arden annexation, he said.
In bold type, a page on the city’s website states: “The City of Sacramento has no plans to annex Arden Arcade.”
But the Yes on Measure D campaign claimed in a Sept. 18 blog entry that the city of Sacramento wants to annex Arden Arcade in the future.
“Despite phony claims by lobbyists and the anti-reform radicals opposing Measure D, OFFICIAL documents – including the City of Sacramento General Plan – have targeted the Arden-Arcade area for annexation,” according to the campaign’s blog post.
Archer, an Arden Arcade City Council candidate, called annexation “a huge concern” and said he opposed it because it would result in “another broken government” for Arden Arcade.
Meanwhile, Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn said he simultaneously supports the idea of annexation, and the right of Arden Arcade voters to decide how to govern themselves.
The city of Sacramento has said it wouldn’t annex Arden Arcade without a vote from the community’s residents, Cohn said.
In his personal view, Cohn said he thinks annexation of Arden Arcade would make for a more efficient government system and consolidate layers of local government.
If Measure D does not pass, Cohn said, there is an opportunity to discuss future annexation of Arden Arcade by the city of Sacramento.
As for the debate over annexation in the current Measure D campaign, Cohn said: “I think they’re using the city of Sacramento as a bogeyman.”
Photos by Brandon Darnell.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.