Guest speaker Michael Coleman spoke at our meeting last night. He is a recognized expert on municipal finance. His talk identified a big fly in the incorporation ointment -- one put there by the state Legislature. Specifically, the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) is an important revenue source for cities and counties. The share apportioned to cities has historically been spread across all cities, including new ones. A few years ago the Legislature's habit of making last-minute bills that don't get much attention in the rush to adjourn the legislative session resulted in a VLF distribution that cut new cities out of the equation. The cities' share of VLF revenues were thus spread across existing cities ONLY, along with some magic-and-pixie-dust and sleight-of-hand that also fiddled around with property taxes to schools and state-level school subventions. One of these days the elves here at our web site might put up a more detailed explanation of this phenomenon over at our "Governance" pages. For now, though, the simplified message is that an unintended consequence of the Legislature's "great work" has been the virtual elimination of new incorporations. With serious buyers' remorse, the Legislature has been trying to fix that problem for California's youngest cities (mostly in Riverside County) that have complained that their local budgets were victims of the legislative tomfoolery. Some minor adjustments have been made to give some help to those cities, but the Governor has steadfastly wielded his veto pen to stand in the way of correcting the main issues.
What does this mean for Arden Arcade? Not much at the moment, really, because 1) nothing in state policy ever stays the same forever, 2) there is no incorporation proposal on the table now and, as several speakers have pointed out at Advocates' meetings, 3) the process of acquiring local control is long and difficult. In the group discussion last night it was stated that 2020 would likely be the earliest any ballot measure about incorporation might go before the electorate. In the meantime, there are many, many preliminary steps to be explored BEFORE a specific proposal for incorporation might be ready for consideration. Here at the Advocates for Arden Arcade, we're fine with that because we are about community awareness and knowledge. Mr. Coleman's presentation struck us as very informative and very helpful. And we would be delighted to hear your thoughts, too, so please feel free to send us email at firstname.lastname@example.org.