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Fallbrook Cityhood Foe Singing a Different Tune

November 12, 1986|ERIC BAILEY | Times Staff Writer

Such opposition aside, the incorporation effort has several logistical hurdles that have yet to be cleared. Chief among them is a fast-approaching deadline prompted by a new state law.

Until recently, it was required that counties help out newly incorporated cities by providing free services--such as law enforcement protection and road repairs--for a one-year period.

At the urging of San Diego County officials and other counties being financially stung by numerous incorporations, state lawmakers recently approved a law freeing counties from the obligation to provide a year's worth of free services.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, but Fallbrook cityhood advocates can beat its provisions if their application for incorporation is submitted before the end of the year. If the application isn't turned in on time, it could add in excess of $1.5 million in operating expenses to Fallbrook's initial start-up costs, incorporation supporters say.

But filing an incorporation application is no easy task. The Fallbrook group must either get signatures of 25% of the community's registered voters on a petition or convince a local agency to sponsor the incorporation drive.

With the holidays fast approaching, the group has reasoned that it would be tough to garner the more than 3,000 signatures that probably would be needed on a petition. Instead, they've opted for the other route and have approached leaders of the Fallbrook Public Utility District about acting as the so-called "lead agency" for the incorporation.

So far, officials from the utility district have balked at the idea, reasoning that they want to wait until they see some numbers that suggest the incorporation will prove fiscally feasible. Incorporation advocates say those figures will be provided by the end of the month and are hopeful the utility district directors will make a decision by early December.

Even if the cityhood backers miss the Jan. 1 deadline, the added operating costs probably would not sink the incorporation, according to Fred Christensen, an Oceanside-based consultant conducting the feasibility study for the Fallbrook group. Christensen said that, under the new state law, the extra costs could be financed over a 10-year period, meaning a new city could spread out its payments.

Such headaches aside, cityhood advocates stress that time for incorporation is now.

"I think it's better government for Fallbrook," said Fuller, "than a remote-control government run by a Board of Supervisors, four out of five of whom have no interest in North County."

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