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The proposed Citrus Heights incorporation was so vigorously opposed by Sacramento County in the 1990s that the County was able to get the Legislature to enact a requirement for "revenue neutrality" in the event a new city is formed. Naturally, "revenue neutrality" means "no impact" on a county's budget, even though it obviously impacts the new city and its tax payers. The state did not stipulate how much money would be paid to a county by its new city or how long the payments would go on. Instead, it just called for negotiations to happen. That situation put counties in control. Citrus Heights and every city formed thereafter had no choice but to participate in a 1-sided negotiation, with agreements usually reached by the new city settling for a very long - 25-30 years - period for payments.

Revenue neutrality payments have become known as "alimony" payments stemming from the new city's "divorce".  In practice they have allowed counties to retain staff even though the county's municipal service delivery workload is obviously reduced. The payments have also impeded the ability of new cities to improve their own infrastructure because dollars are sent to the county instead of being invested locally or instead of returning funds to taxpayers. 

Most everyone would agree that there are costs associated with shutting down operations and/or handing them off to another party. However, the notion that such a transition should take 25-30 years is quite a stretch. And the concept that constituent taxpayers from the new city should pay extra to pad their own county's budget has a fundamental ring of lopsided unfairness.  The California (un)Incorporated coalition has asked for legislative hearings to discuss the issues in full public view. So far, no legislative committees have stepped forward to do so.

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