GUEST COMMENTARY: Mayor: What would we lose going to Inyo County?
Published: Saturday, June 9, 2007 1:45 PM CDT
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BY MAYOR CHIP HOLLOWAY
During the past three decades, California cities have become increasingly dependent upon the funds and services provided by county, state, and federal governments. Small and moderate sized cities, in particular, have often found themselves at the mercy of the political whims of larger municipalities as well other governmental agencies.
Always on the search for ways to fund quality services demanded and deserved by Ridgecrest residents, it has been suggested that secession from Kern County and annexation to Inyo County should be considered and might be beneficial.
There has been an overwhelming number of questions and comments generated since this was first discussed.
Secession and annexation may be accomplished through the agreement of the two county boards of supervisors - with the consideration of the two Local Agency Formation Commissions - or by action of the state legislature.
If the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is "triggered," hundreds of thousands of dollars would be required for the necessary studies. But there is much more that must be considered before any action is taken.
Ridgecrest land owners pay property tax to Kern County. What county services are received in return? Would there be a greater or lesser return from Inyo County?
Fire services are presently provided by Kern County. Would Inyo County be able to provide these services, or would Ridgecrest have to contract with the California Department of Forestry or create its own fire department at a much higher cost? And, what impact would this have on fire insurance costs to Ridgecrest residents?
Kern County Sheriff's Department currently provides technical investigation, helicopter support, and prisoner housing. Inyo County would be unable to provide helicopter support, and Ridgecrest would have to contract with the California Department of Justice for technical investigation at a much higher cost. It is uncertain whether Inyo County would be able to meet prisoner housing requirements.
Kern County District Attorney currently provides crime laboratory services, that would otherwise have to be contracted with the California Department of Justice.
The Superior Court is an agency of the State. However, only Inyo County cases could be heard in Ridgecrest, the balance of Indian Wells Valley and East Kern County cases would be heard elsewhere. What other court services would remain or be moved to the Inyo County Seat?
Distribution of federal and state funds for roads and transit would be made through the Eastern Sierra Council of Governments (Inyo and Mono Counties and Mammoth and Bishop) rather than the Kern County Council of Governments. There would be a far smaller "pot" of money to distribute.
The availability of funds from the Community Development Block Grant program would be significantly reduced.
Distribution of funds to certain non-profit organizations would likely be reduced.
Ridgecrest currently contracts with Kern County for Plan Check and Building Inspection. Who would provide these services?
Kern County Council On Aging currently provides the Senior Nutrition Program. Who would provide this service?
Transit funds are managed by councils of governments. Would funding to Ridgecrest be reduced?
What impact would these actions have on the Sierra Sands Unified School District and Cerro Coso Community College?
Inyo County does not have a library system to replace the Kern County Library.
Some, but probably not all Kern County jobs in Ridgecrest would be replaced.
Kern County has provided three quarters of a million dollars in support of Base Retention.
Where will needed funds come from in the future?
In addition, studies must be made with regard to county landfills, county-regulated ambulance services, flight for life, county emergency services, Kern County park and properties in Ridgecrest, county regional transit services, and impacts on utilities systems.
All ideas for funding municipal services should be studied with an eye to providing more and better service to our constituents.
In no event, however, should this be rushed; but studied thoroughly and dispassionately.
There are many areas of concern - some not listed above - that must be evaluated.
The question remains: What is the best option for the citizens of Ridgecrest? Through this process we will ultimately reveal a definitive answer.
Marshall "Chip" Holloway
Ridgecrest City Mayor
BS Ranch Perspective
The Rumors are true, that Ridgecrest is seriously thinking about moving out of Kern county and moving into the Second Largest County of the United States, Second only to San Bernardino County. Inyo County is a fine County, However there are some short comings on Any Government, There just Is, I guess it goes to the old saying that you can only please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all the people all the time!! Something like that. I am sure that Inyo County would move some amenities into Ridgecrest right away, if they were to take over as the outside County, I know that they only have one side of the City Now and most of that is taken by the Base and Restricted area.
It will be interesting to see what develops for Ridgecrest. If Ridgecrest is annexed into Inyo County then Inyo will have two Incorporated Cities instead of their one Small City of Bishop, Ridgecrest's Lil Rival!