Rosamond cityhood a long path

first_imgROSAMOND – For those who dream of a day when Rosamond will become the Antelope Valley’s fourth city, the message for now is wait a little longer. Cityhood is a topic of occasional discussion among Rosamond residents and was recently the headline topic of the Rosamond Municipal Advisory Council, which advises Kern County government on issues related to community issues. Although the community with a population of about 21,000 people is nearly twice the size of Palmdale when it incorporated in 1962, Rosamond still lacks the financial horsepower to pull off a bid for cityhood. In a “what if” study prepared by the Kern County Administrative Office in 2004, a city of Rosamond could expect revenues totaling roughly $3.2 million and expenditures of $3.7 million. While the community has grown substantially since that report was issued, it hasn’t grown in sales tax revenue, one of the key revenue sources a city needs, said Bill Turpin, executive officer with the Kern County Local Agency Formation Commission. “Incorporation is still not feasible yet,” Turpin said. “You’re not even in the ballpark.” Another issue is political will and the ability of the community raise the $250,000 it would likely take to push an incorporation through. Turpin noted that community leaders failed to gain enough public support in two previous elections to push through tax measures to support parks and recreation services. “It’s a very difficult process,” Turpin said of a community incorporating. “You have to be very dedicated to it. There’s a reluctance to fund new things here.” Among those who believe cityhood is in the community’s future are brothers Daniel and Olaf Landsgaard, who grew up in Rosamond. Daniel Landsgaard, a real estate agent and former water board member, said he believes the community might possibly be ready for cityhood now. He notes that the community has at least 7,000 more people than the 14,000 population figure used in the 2004 study; that there’s a few more stores in town; and that assessed valuation as gone up. Daniel Landsgaard said he would like to see fresher numbers. If the numbers are right, the community should move forward now. “We need to take the step, take control and govern our own future,” Daniel Landsgaard said. Olaf Landsgaard, a board member of the Southern Kern Unified School District and an attorney, said the idea of shooting for an incorporation effort this year is probably moot. But the idea merits a re-examination next year. “For a practical matter, we need more money. We’re at $500,000 in sales tax. We need to get to about $2 million,” Olaf Landsgaard said. “Then it’s viable.” Not everyone in the community is enthralled with the idea of cityhood. Frank Panelli, a member of the Sheriff Department’s citizen advisory committee, said a city government would add another layer of bureaucracy and bring the prospect of more fees and assessments to Rosamond residents. “People want a city because they think they’ll get more response. That’s not necessarily the case,” Panelli said. “More government is not necessarily better government.” Rosamond is more populous than California City, which is incorporated and has about 11,500 inhabitants. It also has more inhabitants than Palmdale did when it became a city in 1962, though only about a third as many as Lancaster did when it became a city in 1977. The town’s closest entity to a city government is the Rosamond Community Services District, whose main responsibility is maintaining water and sewer systems. Voters in 1998 gave the district authority to run parks and clean up graffiti. Turpin describes the path to cityhood as a “fantastically complex process.” The first step is a “quick and dirty” feasibility study – such as the 2004 study for Rosamond – to see if a community has the revenue to stand on its own. If the quick look shows cityhood might be viable, a more detailed feasibility study would follow. That study would look at city boundaries. “You need to limit the number of street miles you have to maintain. Street maintenance is a big expense,” Turpin said. “Strategically, you set your borders to include as many people as possible and as few roads as possible.” An environmental impact report would be required. Then comes a hearing before Turpin’s agency, an independent commission that votes on municipal boundary changes in the county. After passing all of those hurdles, the issue would go before voters. Failures the first couple of times out, such as what occurred with Palmdale’s first attempts at cityhood, are to be expected, Turpin said. “The thing that determines whether Rosamond incorporates is the voters,” Turpin said. [email protected] (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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