Santa Rosa and Sonoma County struck a historic financing deal Wednesday that paves the way for Roseland and four smaller county islands to officially become incorporated into the city.
The cost-sharing agreement, which took more than two years to hammer out and had proven a stumbling block to past annexation efforts, was hailed as “momentous” by Mayor John Sawyer.
“It’s a very important decision to make and one that we did not come to lightly,” Sawyer said. “We were able to work out an agreement that fit for both the county and city in the long term.”
Though it still needs approvals by the City Council and Board of Supervisors, the unanimous vote of a joint subcommittee and congratulatory tone of Wednesday’s meeting suggest the agreement will stick and the annexation of 714 acres of property in the city’s southwest area will move forward.
Members of the committee and staff of both organizations clapped and shook hands after the vote and praised the hard work and creativity needed to reach the deal.
“This is an important milestone,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who grew up in the heavily Latino Roseland neighborhood and represents the area on the board. “I’m hopeful that we’ve reached common ground.”
He noted that the board that will decide whether the city can complete the annexation, the Local Area Formation Commission, requires agencies proposing annexations to demonstrate they have a sustainable plan to fund services to the area, and that the deal accomplished that.
The board of supervisors plans to vote on the agreement Nov. 1 and the City Council will take it up on Nov. 29. Then the city will have to formally apply to LAFCO to annex the areas, a process that will take months.
A previous annexation push stalled in 2008 when the two sides couldn’t agree on the funding of new services to the area, particularly public safety.
But the 2013 shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff’s deputy in the similarly underserved, unincorporated neighborhood of Moorland gave renewed urgency to annexation, Supervisor Shirlee Zane said.
“We all kind of came together and said, ‘Boy, it’s really time to do this. We’ve been talking about it for so many years,’ ” Zane said. “Out of that tragedy came an opportunity for hopefulness and for change in a community that is beloved.”
Sawyer and Carrillo met privately over the last several months to negotiate the agreement, and Councilwoman Julie Combs said the deal represented a legacy for both men.
Sawyer hinted at significant progress in the negotiations back in August, saying a breakthrough had been reached over how the city and county would share property tax revenue.
Wednesday’s meeting provided the details on four different types of payments the county will make to the city. They are:
$790,000 in one-time costs to help the city begin providing services to the area. These include the purchase of police cars and uniforms and an assessment of the stormwater system in the area. The city had asked for $1.3 million.
$500,000 per year for 10 years to help the city offset the $3.6 million annual increase in operating costs expected from the annexation. The figure will be reassessed annually. The city had asked for $805,700.
Sonoma County will pay Santa Rosa the following amounts to help provide services to Roseland after annexation
$790,000 in one-time costs to help the city begin providing services $500,000 per year for 10 years to help the city offset operating costs
$660,000 per year for 10 years to help the city upgrade streets.
$226,400 annual payment to the city in perpetuity, adjusted annually based on the property tax base