January 24, 2022

Submitted via email

RE: Defer consideration of Agenda item 34 (Approve Property Tax Transfer for the proposed “Miramonte Reorganization”) until fiscal consequences clear

Dear Supervisor Phillips,

LandWatch respectfully asks that you defer consideration of Agenda item 34 (Approve Property Tax Transfer for the proposed “Miramonte Reorganization”) because the staff reports doesn’t not make clear how the property transfer tax will impact Monterey County residents.

  1. Approve Property Tax Transfer for the proposed “Miramonte Reorganization” involving Sphere of Influence amendment, annexation of approximately 647 acres to the City of Soledad and detachments from the Monterey County Resource Conservation District, the Soledad Mission Recreation District and the Mission Soledad Rural Fire Protection District.

Specifically, we note:

  • Neither the staff report nor the draft Resolution adequately explain the tax sharing agreement.
    • For example, there is no explanation of the discretion the County may have to alter the sharing ratios one way of the other.  If all of this were driven by a mandatory formula, it is not clear why the MOA called for an agreement to be negotiated.
    • The resolution is confusing and technically complex.  No lay person could be expected to follow the logic without background explanation, which is not provided in either the resolution or the staff report.  This explanation needs to be in writing so that decision makers and the public can take the necessary time to understand it.
    • The resolution and staff report provide no dollar figures so it is impossible to understand the magnitudes of the revenues at issue.  All of the allocation changes are stated in terms of percentages.  How much money is involved?  How much discretion does the County have to negotiate the terms?
  • The staff report fails to mention or discuss the MOA Section 8.2 language that may permit the County to exercise some leverage over the terms of the annexation to ensure that it is consistent and remains consistent with the County’s own interpretation of the MOA.
  • The March 2016 MOA spells out various agreements regarding, inter alia, direction of growth within the UGB; plans for future consultations; specific planning actions to be undertaken; jobs/housing balance; agricultural land compatibility, preservation, and mitigation; traffic mitigation fees; and the need for a tax sharing agreement.  As noted below, not all of these terms have yet been honored.
  • The City of Soledad and LAFCO staff have not completed all of the tasks, data-provision, and analysis that LAFCO requires before it considers the annexation.  For example, as of March 2020, the City still needed an ag mitigation and ag buffer agreement with the County;  a property tax sharing agreement; and a plan for municipal services.  And LAFCO staff still needed to conduct a Municipal Services Review and complete evaluation of the annexation proposal.  Staff identified several outstanding issues that may affect its ultimate approval of the annexation, including the need for a phasing plan reflecting likely market absorption of the housing units; evidence that infrastructure funding is feasible; information regarding jobs/housing balance and GHG impacts; justification to annex the open-space area rather than leaving it in the County; and resolution of various school district concerns.  (See March 2020 LAFO letter at pdf pages 138).

LandWatch recommends the Board of Supervisors ask County staff to obtain a complete explanation of the otherwise unexplained conclusion in the staff report that the Annexation is consistent with the MOA.  Staff should explain for each of the first 8 sections of the MOA how the annexation proponents have demonstrated consistency.  For example, where the MOA calls for the City to act (e.g., to adopt and exact mitigation fees for ag, traffic, etc), but the City has not yet acted, how can the County ensure that it does act?

There appears to be no reason to complete the tax sharing agreement before the County is satisfied that all of the terms of the MOA have been or will be honored.

Thank you,