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Orange County Elections : Won't Have Responsibility--or Tax Revenues : County a Loser in Mission Viejo Vote

November 04, 1987|DAVE LESHER | Times Staff Writer

Tuesday's incorporation vote in Mission Viejo means Orange County will soon be out of a job. Or two.

Instead of being the main provider of public services in the community, the county will no longer be responsible for choosing the roads to be repaired or locating the stop signs.

No longer will Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez be a symbolic mayor. All the constituents' complaints he has received as the first-line elected official for Mission Viejo should soon be going to a real mayor.

"Right now, if somebody has a street lighting problem, a stop sign problem, a traffic problem and even a dog problem, they contact this office," Vasquez said earlier this week.

"I would say about 60% of our staff time is spent addressing the problems and needs of direct constituents" in Mission Viejo and other unincorporated areas of the Third Supervisorial District.

Long before Tuesday's election, county officials were sketching how the birth of the county's 27th city might affect their operations.

Although many of the county's responsibilities for basic services would be relieved, the new city council would be expected to contract with the county for many of its current functions, such as police and fire protection. That means sheriff's deputies and county firefighters would be providing the services--but at city expense.

The county will not know exactly what services it will continue, or to what degree, until the new city council can make some decisions.

Regardless of what those decisions might be, the county is obligated to continue providing all of its normal services through June 1988, the end of the current fiscal year.

While incorporation will mean a savings to the county because it will not provide as many services, it also will not receive the tax revenue from Mission Viejo that it has in the past.

Loss in Revenues

The County Administrator's Office estimated in May that if Mission Viejo incorporated in fiscal 1985-86, the county general fund would suffer a net loss of about $3.7 million. That figure takes into consideration both the tax revenue from the area and the costs of providing services.

The separate road fund, however, which would no longer have been used to maintain Mission Viejo streets, would have saved about $900,000.

Officially, county officials and the supervisors maintained a neutral posture on the incorporation of Mission Viejo and several other communities considering cityhood.

"Incorporation is an issue of self-determination," Vasquez said.

But, despite the loss of revenue, county officials quietly encouraged Mission Viejo incorporation.

Roger R. Stanton, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said: "I feel very positively about the formation of new cities in the county; I've been a strong proponent of pushing government down closer to the people. It would just be a little less revenue."

2 Votes for Cityhood

Stanton and Supervisor Thomas F. Riley are both members of the Local Agency Formation Commission. Both voted for Mission Viejo incorporation in July on that commission.

Last year, the Board of Supervisors voted to waive a new state law that would have placed a financial burden on new cities. That could save an incorporated Mission Viejo up to $1 million.

The state law would have required the new city to reimburse the county for services it provided between the effective date of the incorporation--next March--and the end of the fiscal year.

The services provided by the county to the unincorporated community of Mission Viejo have included general government administration, liability insurance, police protection, animal control, community services such as recreational areas and neighborhood centers, planning and land-use regulation, health-care and welfare programs.

The county collected $5.5 million from Mission Viejo in fiscal 1985-86, but law enforcement and land use planning alone cost the county about $1.8 million in fiscal 1985-86, the County Administrator's Office figured.

Even after the end of the fiscal year, the county would continue to provide health and welfare services for residents of an incorporated Mission Viejo, as it does for other cities in the county. It would also continue its libraries, parks and recreation facilities.

WHO WILL PROVIDE SERVICES FOR NEW CITY

When Mission Viejo becomes a municipality on March 31, 1988, the county will continue to provide some services for the 64,000 residents, but under contract to the new city. Here is how the change in governmental control will affect essential services.

Service Service Provider PUBLIC SAFETY Police County County (contract) Fire County County (contract) Animal Control County County (contract) UTILITIES Water Moulton-Ngl. Water Dist. No Change Sta. Margarita Water Dist. No Change Sewer Moulton-Ngl. Water Dist. No Change Sta. Margarita Water Dist. No Change Electricity So. Cal. Edison No Change San Diego Gas & Electric No Change Solid Waste County City (Dewey's Rubbish) (Dewey's Rubbish) Street Lighting Mission Viejo City Comm. Services Dist. PUBLIC WORKS Streets Mission Viejo City Comm. Services Dist. Landscape Maint. Mission Viejo City Comm. Services Dist. Flood Control County No Change COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Planning County City Building County City Animal Control County County (contract) LEISURE SERVICES Parks and Recreation County No Change Library County No Change

Source: Local Agency Formation Commission

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