Thursday, April 10, 2008
Monterey County Supervisors and Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue practically had a group hug Tuesday, April 8, after announcing an agreement over tax sharing and farmland preservation. While Donohue didn’t cry on Supervisor Fernando Armenta’s shoulder, he gave Armenta some friendly nudges akin to teammates in a locker room.
Supervisor Lou Calcagno praised Donohue like a fellow soldier. “Dennis, I know we had some hard moments and I know we had some hard times, but you came through in battle color.”
Supervisor Simón Salinas even shared some accolades: “I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to join this county-city love fest.”
Love was certainly in the county’s ventilation system after months of debate centering on Salinas’ plan to annex 2,388 acres northeast of city limits for about 11,500 future homes. The county had threatened to sue the city over the inadequacy of its supplemental environmental impact report.
The two governments talked out their differences and avoided a nasty breakup.
As part of the agreement, the City Council approved an agricultural land preservation program. For example, the city’s growth to the north and east of Highway 101 will require a mitigation fee of $750 per acre for lands designated as “prime” or “of statewide importance.”
While growth is centered to the north and east, the program calls for agriculture easements if development occurs to the south or west.
The county and city also approved a tax agreement for future annexations. This will move forward the city’s annexation application to the Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County.
In the future growth area, the county will receive 56.2 percent of available property taxes while the city will get 43.8 percent. But the city will not receive the tax revenue if it breaks its prenuptial agreement (aka the Greater Salinas Area Memorandum of Understanding).
Further following a relationship counselor’s advice, the city and county are also setting goals together. Donohue said the two governments will discuss public safety and downtown development next. Donohue says he’s not afraid of commitment. “We are laying the ground work for the city and county for 50 to 100 years.”