Council: Secession 'off the table'
BY NATHANIEL LIEDL
Published: Friday, August 3, 2007 12:21 PM CDT
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The secession debate in Ridgecrest is over, at least officially.
The Ridgecrest City Council unanimously passed a motion to remove any talk of secession from Kern County and annexation into Inyo County at their meeting on Wednesday night.
In early June, Vice Mayor Tom Wiknich proposed that the Council do a "thorough analysis" on what the City expends and receives from the County. Wiknich also said that "...the City should look into the prospect of Ridgecrest seceding from Kern County and annexing into Inyo County."
That prompted First District Supervisor Jon McQuiston to appear before the Council in June and again in July. On July 18, McQuiston, along with Kern County staff, presented the financial numbers on what the City expends and receives from the County.
At that meeting, McQuiston said the City receives $2.73 for every dollar they give to the County.
Within the last two weeks, Wiknich, with other Council members, met with McQuiston and State Assemblywoman Jean Fuller. Wiknich said last week's meeting with McQuiston, City Manager Harvey Rose, and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Morgan was "very cordial, polite, friendly, and open and candid." The meeting lasted almost three hours with discussion focused on the renegotiation of the Redevelopment Agreement of 1987 and the annexation of County lands.
"Supervisor McQuiston requested us to put our positions and recommendations into writing and he agreed to submit them to County officials for further discussions," said Wiknich. "As a result of these preliminary discussions we decided that we would have more of these meetings in the future on a regular basis."
That meeting, as well as the meeting with Fuller, encouraged Wiknich to permanently pull secession "off the table."
"In conclusion, I believe the numbers we got from the County were very complete and favorable," said Wiknich. "I also believe the meeting to begin the renegotiations was very positive and open and having Assemblywoman Fuller offer to help us on the state level is really exciting. As a result of these positive steps I would like to make a motion that while we have an analysis ongoing as far as trying to get this roads initiative passed I would like to make a motion to take annexing into Inyo County off the table officially."
The Council carried the motion 5-0.
"We can symbolically vote because we never voted on it to begin with," said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Morgan. "But to appease some people let's just get it over with."
Because the City is now aware of its financial situation in relation to the County, it is up to the City to pass a road initiative on their own, said Wiknich.
"Since December 2006 we have been discussing putting to the people of Ridgecrest another roads initiative asking people for the third time to approve a sales tax increase for the purpose of fixing the roads in Ridgecrest," said Wiknich.
"The people were telling us that they want us to fight the higher levels of government to find funding first. Some have even suggested we should sue higher levels of government. They told us that before we asked them to approve a roads initiative they wanted to be sure that we had done everything we can to raise money — as much money as we can — before asking them to approve a tax. And then after, if we can convince them that we've done everything we can then, they may be willing to pass such a final initiative. The last one was very close to passing we just need a few more votes to get one through."
The Kern Council of Governments is scheduling a presentation for the "state transportation fund cycle for the [California Transportation Commission]" on October 3, said Morgan. He said it is "imperative that the community understand what's going on there."
"I think it will drive home the point as we are moving forward on a possible measure exactly what we're not going to get for the next several years," said Morgan. "Again, what [Wiknich] was talking about, trying to get the information to prove to the public we're doing absolutely everything we can to give you all the informaiton necessary to make a well rounded decision on any measure that may make it to ballot."
A bond measure would be "specific" for road improvements which would require a two thirds vote, Rose said last month.
"The Council has talked about presenting another financial issue to the public sometime in 2008," said Rose.
In other matters, the Council passed a resolution to authorize City Manager Rose to enter into an agreement with Hall and Foreman, Inc. for the preparation of plans and specifications for the traffic signal at the intersection of South China Lake Boulevard and Church Avenue.
Funding for construction of the signal had been partially received through Hazard Elimination Safety funds. Hall and Foreman, Inc. will complete the project for $16,000.
The Council also held a public hearing on the sale of a commercial building in the Ridgecrest Business Park. Mary Boster will open a print facility/business center on the lot. There was no public comment.
Lastly, the Council designated Mayor Chip Holloway as the City's Voting Delegate for the League of California Cities Annual Conference, taking place from Sept. 5-8 in Sacramento. Holloway asked fellow council members to e-mail him with input on issues to be discussed at the conference.
BS Ranch Perspective
I am one that is of the sound and full belief that the City of Ridgecrest that is located in the County of Kern, would have received better service had they voted to move the County line to take in their City and surrounding area into the County of INYO. For the simple reason that Inyo county Seat is so much closer to Ridgecrest then Kern County's Is, I mean really, Kern Counties looks towards Ridegecrest as part of a Step Child that doesn't do their choirs to keep their room clean, so they are looked down upon and they don't get any of the Counties funding to keep themselves as part of the budgeting such as the dogs, and the Dog Pound.
In some ways it is better that the things stay the same in other ways it would have been a good thing to have Ridgecrest and a Second City, Especially one as big as Ridgecrest in the County of INYO, to top off the County coffers..But as the saying goes, the more things change the more that they stay the same.
they are never more true then with the City of Ridgecrest and the County of Inyo!!