ALAMO — Alamo passed a key hurdle in its efforts to become a city Thursday night when the Local Agency Formation Commission voted to place the matter on the ballot next year.
The vote was 4-1, with Helen Allen of Concord the lone vote against.
The decision pleased incorporation proponents, who were among more than 40 people who waited patiently for their chance to voice an opinion on the issue during the five-hour meeting held at Creekside Community Church.
"We are very pleased with the outcome of the vote this evening, and we look forward to now going to the March 2009 ballot and hopefully becoming the 20th city of Contra Costa County," said David Bowlby, a member of the Alamo Incorporation Movement.
During the meeting, LAFCO director Lou Ann Texeira and representatives of cityhood consultants Winzler & Kelly made their case to place the matter on the ballot and outlined last-minute changes to the incorporation plan.
The biggest discussion Thursday revolved around a comprehensive fiscal analysis that Winzler & Kelly based on Alamo's 2006-07 tax revenue. Many speakers questioned the estimates in light of the present economic downturn.
The consultant estimated a city of Alamo could bring in about $8.7 million annually and would be able to maintain a 25 percent reserve after operating costs.
The suggested reserve was estimated to rise over the first 10 years to $6 million, allowing the town to pay $3 million to Contra Costa County, according to an agreement, to compensate the county for lost revenue.
When asked how the county would get the $3 million if Alamo refused or could not pay in 10 years, consultant Gary Thompson replied that, as he remembered the agreement, the county could probably withhold property tax revenue until it was repaid.
Texeira said that cityhood proponents had cleared all the LAFCO hurdles, including verification of the county's petition for cityhood, completing a questionnaire, processing fees, fiscal analysis, environmental documents and public hearings.
If approved by local voters, what was Alamo horse country will become a 9.87-square-mile city with a population of more than 16,000.
Two new amendments to the cityhood proposal were unveiled Thursday: First, that boundaries include areas inside and outside of the urban limit line; second, to receive a share of public transportation funds, the new city will have to adopt the county urban limit line or establish a new one.
Under the amended plan, Walnut Creek will transfer 108 acres and Danville another 8.06 acres from their spheres of influence to be included within the new Alamo city boundary.
The city of Alamo would automatically assume all of the existing county codes and operate under the county's general plan for the first 120 days or until it enacts its own ordinances and must come up with a new general plan within 30 months.
The new city would initially contract with the county for nine of the 11 services outlined in the fiscal analysis. The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office would likely get the law enforcement contract.
Residents of special police districts already pay for upgraded policing and those districts would remain intact.
Many speakers Thursday argued that the estimated contract costs for a minimum of 12.3 officers recommended by the sheriff's office is not adequate.
Traffic accident reporting and enforcement — presently provided by the California Highway Patrol — would not be available to Alamo as a city.
"Whenever a new city is incorporated, they (residents) have the expectation of a higher level of service," Scott Daly, a sheriff's commander, said outside of the meeting.
He suggested that the new city could need 16-18 officers to provide service that will satisfy residents.
The county's cable television station CCTV will rebroadcast Thursday's meeting Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. on Comcast Channel 27 and Astound Channel 32.
Reach Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org.