MARTINEZ -- Martinez has reached a tax-sharing deal with Contra Costa County, but annexation of a swath of Alhambra Valley is far from certain given residents' opposition.
City leaders want to annex 140 parcels spread across 400 acres in the valley. Some residents believe annexation threatens the valley's rural character and they worry that road maintenance and police service would suffer if the area becomes a part of Martinez.
Before the Contra Costa County Local Area Formation Commission will schedule a hearing on the annexation, the city and county had to work out a deal to share property tax revenue generated by the area.
Martinez and the county agreed to abide by a property tax-sharing agreement that dates back to 1980. Under that policy, the city will get almost $62,000 per year. For up to five years, the county will continue to process two residential developments -- one with 23 lots and the other with seven -- in the southeast section of the Alhambra Valley.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the tax-sharing agreement later this month.
When the Stonehurst and Alhambra Valley Ranch subdivisions off Alhambra Valley Road were built in the 1980s, the deeds included a stipulation that the houses would one day become part of Martinez, which provides water service to those homes.
If 25 percent of homeowners or registered voters in the proposed annexation area file a written protest with LAFCO, the city
Reiterating his opposition to this strategy, which created an oddly shaped annexation area, Councilman Mark Ross cast the only no vote against the tax-sharing agreement.
"Having our police cross sheriff territory to get to our territory, having the sheriff cross our territory to get to these little islands of six, eight homes here and there; it just doesn't make sense," Ross said. "I see the whole valley as part of Martinez. I'm not afraid of the vote; if they turn it down fine."
Earlier this year, residents of North Pacheco forced a vote on the city's plan to annex 111 acres along Interstate 680 from Highway 4 north to the BNSF railroad overcrossing.
This week, the City Council was expected to call for a mail-in ballot election on Aug. 28 for the 126 registered voters living in the proposed annexation area. A majority vote against annexation would scuttle the plan the city has been working on for several years. Martinez must pay the estimated $3,000 tab for the election.
Like the Alhambra Valley homeowners, some North Pacheco residents believe annexation would lead to poorly maintained roads, longer police response times and higher property taxes. Other critics believe the annexation is a bad deal for Martinez because the costs of providing police protection and other services to North Pacheco are projected initially to exceed the property tax and sales tax revenue the area generates.
Under a tax-sharing agreement with the county, Martinez would get 55 percent of the sales tax revenue generated from North Pacheco, an initial share of about $25,000 per year. The city would get $13,510 in property tax annually, which amounts to about 23 percent of the county's share of the property tax at the time of annexation. As property values increase over time, Martinez would get about 46 percent of the county's portion of the tax increment.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.