Should Ridgecrest leave Kern County?
BY NATHANIEL LIEDL - Staff Reporter - The Daily Independent
Published: Thursday, June 7, 2007 10:46 AM CDT
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Frustrated by the feeling the City of Ridgecrest is not receiving their due share of Kern County or state funding, the Ridgecrest City Council agreed to look into seceding from the County and becoming part of Inyo County Wednesday night.
Vice Mayor Tom Wiknich raised the idea of secession and said that "thorough analysis on what Kern County receives attributed to the City of Ridgecrest" is needed, "then get the figures as to what the County spends in support of Ridgecrest."
Wiknich emphasized the need of further research.
"My fellow council members, I know that I'm dropping on you a pretty radical idea. I know you'll need time to think this through. What I am asking of the council tonight, is to let me bring this idea to the City Organization committee for further research. I'm not asking for funds to go out and hire some consultant to study this for us.
"What I do propose at the committee level is that I, along with someone on the staff already, set to work on gathering the Kern County financial data, and then research the pros and cons, and financial impacts in annexing to Inyo County. We should also consider the possible political implications that this idea may bring."
Wiknich's proposal followed a resolution proposed by City Manager Harvey Rose. Rose requested that the state accelerate monies from Proposition 1B for local transportation projects by including the full funding the $1 billion for California's cities in the 2007-08 State budget. The City of Ridgecrest should receive approximately $875,000 in funding from Prop 1B.
"Early allocation of these funds will allow projects to get underway immediately and will prevent unnecessary delays," said Rose. "Whereas some Prop 1B projects will take years or even decades to complete, many city transportation improvement projects are ready to get off the drawing board and into construction right away."
Rose said the state has instead opted to "allocate some of the Prop 1B money to the large metropolitan areas, leaving us small cities in the lurch."
"So this is a concerted effort to attempt to persuade the state to release those monies sooner rather than later."
Council members agreed with Wiknich that thinking "out of the box" is necessary and at least obtaining more data is a good idea.
"I concur with Vice Mayor Wiknich, let's do the exploration, it can't hurt. It can only help us in terms of what our future may be in terms of Inyo County or Kern County. I see no problem with researching this and bringing it back to the Council," said Council Member Dan Clark.
As of the 2000 census, Inyo County had approximately 18,000 residents. It lies entirely on the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, stretching from Pearsonville in the south to just north of Bishop.
Wiknich said he has traveled to the Inyo County seat, Independence, and met with the County Chairman of their Board of Supervisors.
"He has concurred with me that we have much in common, and the idea of them taking in the City of Ridgecrest is something they would consider. They would gain things by us joining them as well as we would have certain things to gain as well," said Wiknich.
The Council stressed that no "ill will" exists toward Kern County employees or Supervisor Jon McQuiston.
"The problem is much higher than the County," said Mayor Chip Holloway. "And the County's struggling a great deal also."
"It's always a one-way street," said Council Member Ron Carter of funding negotiations with Bakersfield. "It's not looking at what's fair to both sides. And it seems that Bakersfield continually wants to have us come up on the short end where we're having to pay for County services."
Holloway said some his initial enthusiasm of secession has "tempered down." He also emphasized the need for more research and estimated that only 25 percent of the necessary fact finding had been conducted.
"The bottom line is there's never been a better time or a better Supervisor in place for us to negotiate with and to get the City of Ridgecrest the best deal," said Holloway.
As for the budget, Rose presented the 2007-08 draft to the Council. Public workshops will be a full-day on Monday, June 18, and a half-day on Tuesday, June 19.
BS Ranch Perspective
The Answer to this is this simple news question is this: NO; Ridgecrest, should remain in Kern County, after all it has been in the County for so long and since it has been in the county for this long it might as well stay in the county this much longer, unless the services that they are getting is not that great, they are right on the line, they can change the lines changed for the Counties that they are on the cusp of and have Kern County changed, so that either San Bernardinino County or Inyo County covers that of Ridge Crest. Now it is up to the counties that surround the city and see which one will cover the crime raged area.