The County’s Fleecing of Goleta Must End

The Revenue Neutrality Agreement Is Neither Just Nor Fair

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
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“Goleta has the worst Revenue Neutrality Agreement (RNA) in the history of California,” according to Dave Mullinax of the California League of Cities. Revenue Neutrality Agreements are a Sacramento-designed mechanism to smooth revenues for counties when new cities incorporate. For most communities, this is a short-term transition period. But not in Goleta.

Under the terms of the RNA, the County of Santa Barbara (pop. 420,000) has taken from the City of Goleta (pop. 28,000) over $80,000,000 since the Goleta’s incorporation 11 years ago. That’s $80 million from the taxpayers of our small city. Goleta’s Revenue Neutrality Agreement permits the county to take 30 percent of all our sales tax and 50 percent of all property tax until the end of time.

The county has two arguments to justify this taking: Goleta agreed to the terms of the RNA, and the county needs the revenue. But, if one reads the history of the cityhood vote, one can see that the choice Goletans faced was to accept the onerous terms of the RNA or forgo, once again, the creation of a city in the Good Land. We opted for cityhood along with this flawed agreement.

The county’s other argument is that it needs the money. Of course it does. The county has a voracious appetite for money, spending $850,000,000 every year and wanting more. Goleta, with a budget of around $20 million, lives within its modest means. We are solvent because of the commitment by our past and current City Councils to spend our funds judiciously. With the onerous RNA, Goleta has an antiquated traffic grid, no permanent City Hall, no public spaces to gather, no parks and recreation department, and on and on. Under the terms of the current RNA, it is not able to. This has to change.

Every city in the county pays for the services it receives from the county. And Goleta pays these same fees, plus the extra $5 million for the RNA each year, for which Goleta receives no additional services. None. Nada. Nothing.

The tax revenue the county takes from the city every year prevents Goleta from becoming the city it can and should become. Unless the RNA is terminated, the great-grandchildren of Goleta’s current citizens, and the great-grandchildren of those great-grandchildren, will still be paying the county this extortion from Goleta taxpayers.

Is this just? Is this fair to the people of Goleta? Isn’t $80 million enough?


Independent Discussion Guidelines

The children, grand children and great grand children won't be able to afford to live in Goleta anyways. Government has nothing to do with being fair.

spacey (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 1:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Is this how Farr and Aceves deal with the other contracts they are supposed to honor?

And do they think that their snippy, whiny 'tude in this letter to editor is gonna be persuasive?

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Uh… Goleta's boundaries purposely cherrypicked revenue generators like Costco and Bacara and Goleta Hotels.

Goleta's boundaries purposely avoided Isla Vista, full of residents who go shop at Costco and whose parents and relatives fill the Goleta hotels.

Well, Isla Vista also has a lot of poor families that Goletans hate and wanted to screw.

No way should the County ever end this revenue agreement. The County has a duty to not let Goleta abscond with all the tax revenue Isla Vista generates for them.

Giving back money to the Goleta haters of Isla Vista families is just wrong.

Oh, don't forget, Goleta tried to grab the old Isla Vista Sanitary district too, a brutal, heartless, nasty attempted theft of Isla Vista resources.

Don't let the Goleta haters win.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 4:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Whine, whine, whine. You made the deal, you got what you wanted, now live up to it. You want the County to re-negotiate, then you need to put something on the table, like annexing Goleta Beach Park and Isla Vista.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 5:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The City of Goleta itself is unust and unfair, specifically to the residents of isla Vista who are taxed but have no vote in city elections.

Their prejuidice gors so far as to cut their own noses off, for you cannot serve on any City Board if you live in Isla Vista, robbing themselves of first class board members, rules such are but one reason why Goleta will never become the city it can become.

Love how the whole idea of Goleta is romanticized throughout like a 1920s land agent's brochure.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 9:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"Well, Isla Vista also has a lot of poor families that Goletans hate and wanted to screw."

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
January 22, 2014 at 4:50 p.m

You make this sound as though the average rank-and-file person in Goleta plots ways to make Isla Vista folks miserable. I think there is a more Lumpenproletariat factor at play, even if those pulling the strings are themselves greedy.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 1:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds to me like someone was either plain stupid or didn't do due diligence before agreeing to this and is now whining just like those who took out mortgages they couldn't afford.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 8:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't think it was the "poor families" in IV that caused the Goleta City Formation Committee (or whatever they were called) to draw the boundaries to exclude IV, rather it was because they didn't want to have to pay for the law enforcement costs associated with all the UCSB and City College students.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't if sevendolphins ever met anybody from Goleta, but all the Goleta residents that know are pretty nice folk. They are not rich. Rather they are mostly middle-class people like building trade contractors, public servants, engineers, school teachers, public safety employees, college professors, small business owners, retirees, a lot of mellow surfers. They may roll their eyes at the antics out in Isla Vista, but they don't hate Isla Vista residents. The revenue sharing agreement is indeed unjust and should be renegotiated. However, the County has absolutely no incentive to come to the table. I agree that Goleta needs to sweeten the pot with something so that the County can justify negotiating. Otherwise, it just is not ever going to happen.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 11:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Did anyone bother to notice the timing? This has gone on for 10 years! But Goleta is raising it NOW because Goleta City Council member Roger Aceves is running for 2nd District County Supervisor.

At a minimum Aceves has convinced the Goleta council that pressing this issue now will force the county majority to renegotiate revenue neutrality rather than risk getting Aceves on the Council. Since no Goleta Council members have endorsed Aceves, maybe they see this as a win-win: they will either get revenue neutrality renegotiated or Aceves will win the Supes seat and thus Goleta's council will be rid of him.

2 questions:

1. What are the odds that Aceves, if elected Supervisor, will have the votes to renegotiate the RNA (or will even want to?).

2, How would Goleta Council feel if the County ran a campaign that would interfere with a Goleta election.

Phew, this stinks.

dprince (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 1 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Ok folks, let's not read into this more than there is. Occam's Razor rule is in effect. The simplest explanation is probably the correct one. This is just two politicians puffing up their chests to show their constituents that they are trying to do something about an issue over which they have no influence, much less even a shred of control. People in Goleta are frustrated that their tax dollars are being syphoned off in such huge amounts to benefit people outside Goleta. That is understandable. It is also understandable that the politicians who serve on the City Council would act to show the residents of Goleta that the City Council cares. I'll admit that there is a rather lame political leverage issue in play (with the 2nd District supervisorial election coming up and all). But these chest beating efforts are not really going to affect the election one way or the other. Goleta paid a heavy and unfair price for their independence from the County. Until Goleta has something that the County really, really wants, they won't have the leverage to renegotiate the bad deal. That is what really stinks.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
January 23, 2014 at 9:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well I don't think the County is going to be much interested in anything if they keep turning Goleta into Camarillo.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 12:03 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Eckerman wrote ``I don't if sevendolphins ever met anybody from Goleta, but all the Goleta residents that know are pretty nice folk.''

Indeed, I met them at the hearings for the formation of Goleta city hood. When it comes to IV, they transformed from nice, pale, dull people into clenched fists and hard faces.

IV is the home of a lot of Section 8 housing and some of the only group homes for developmentally disabled. The Goletans don't give a damn if they grab all the sales tax those folks spend inside the cherry picked Goleta boundaries. Some of the Goletans said to me, `Well, we took Old Town, and enough is enough'. Fair to them is: we get the Isla Vista sales tax revenue and bed tax, and Isla Vista can just get screwed.

Isla Vista is a revenue generator that easily pays it law enforcement costs if you include all the sales tax generated by the fairly spendy students and all the bed tax generated by their visiting parents and friends. It is a myth that Isla Vista is a sink of money… parents from all over California deposit money in the students' checking accounts and they spend it here. Or they spend the State financial aid locally here.

Loads of property tax generated in IV too, per unit area just huge, few streets and services to support off that. Net, IV subsidizes the more rural portions of the County.

Don't forget the Goletans tried to seize the Goleta West Sanitary District, a very well-managed special district. It was a bald power play by the City of Goleta to steal assets of what was originally the Isla Vista Sanitary District.

Sorry, the face the Goletans show to Isla Vista is one that is hard and enraged. They are the petite bourgeoisie in Goleta.

With luck Doreen Farr will stick to her guns and do the right thing, which is keep the Revenue Neutrality in place.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 4 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gosh sevendolphins, I guess that I could respond by citing all the drunken debauchery, traffic, and crowded surf conditions problems that IV visits on Goleta, but I won't. I.V. is our neighbor and part of the rich diversity that is Goleta, even if they are not in the City. The Goleta incorporation would never have happened if it included I.V. in the boundaries. Not all of us Goletans agreed with political calculus that cut I.V. out, but there would be no City of Goleta if it had been included. The problems in I.V. have been created by the County and UCSB, not by the residents of Goleta. I agree that the students and landowners of I.V. contribute considerably to our community in terms of sales and property taxes. In fact property taxes in I.V. probably fund public services in Orcutt. Goleta's attempt to negotiate a fair revenue sharing agreement with the County, should not pit I.V. against Goleta. In fact we should work together to extract or fair share from the County. I suspect the great sucking sound we are hearing is the tax dollars of both Goleta and I.V. being syphoned off by North County.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 7:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Surf conditions are crowded everywhere. Don't surf, you'll hate it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 8:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Flush the negativity out of your head Ken and grab that board and join us. Watch this short film, and educate yourself.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 8:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You see Eckermann, not all of us dolphins are like sevendolphins, some of us just like to kick back and surf. Morevover, does I.V. have a Taco Bell?...I've never seen one there, and if a place doesn't have a Taco Bell, somethin' ain't right.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
January 24, 2014 at 8:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No Taco Bell, but a Habit. No more Javan's, but Chinese food is finally back. Just got to know where to look for it.

The Goleta Roundtable reports from 2000 flatly contradict you, Eckerman. The only pan-Goleta Valley polling indicated a city of Western Goleta + IV would pass. The confounding factor is Eastern Goleta; if you include them, the West + East + IV failed. But East Goleta also didn't want to be in with West Goleta, and is now Noleta. The polling definitely said West G + IV would pass at the ballot box.

It was the Goleta city hood folks who didn't want to believe the polling, and wanted to trap maximum revenue with minimum responsibility. So they grabbed where Isla Vista shops to grab to sales tax, but dumped all the Section 8, developmentally disabled, and Spanish-speaking folks in IV on the County.

The attempt to grab Goleta West Sanitary just proved it again.

Thank goodness Bob Braitman is out.

Maintain the Revenue Neutrality Agreement forever!

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2014 at 12:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well Ken, surf conditions are not crowded everywhere; but since you think they are, I won't disabuse you of that notion. Put your board in the rafters Ken, it's over. Sevendolphins may have a better memory than I about the politics of Goleta cityhood elections. But every time that I.V. was included it failed and when I.V. was excluded it passed. Those are merely facts rather than polling. However, I, for one, would have preferred that I.V. be included and still consider that gritty little beach town student ghetto part of my community. Yet the revenue neutrality agreement is unfair and is bad for both Goleta and I.V. Our collective tax dollars are being sucked up by the North County. Maybe one of things to that Goleta could put on the table for negotiating a change in the agreement is to incorporate I.V. into the City of Goleta. What would you think of that Sevendolphins?

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
January 25, 2014 at 9:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Eckerman, same is true of Noleta. The difference between Noleta & IV is that IV's votes would have carried the election. The Goleta city hood folks didn't want a city with 45% in favor in Western Goleta carried by 80% in favor in Isla Vista. And the city hood folks viscerally dislike IV…

IV, of course, was subdivided in 1925, and is quite a bit older than all Goleta subdivisions outside of Old Town. Goleta only really got going when UCSB moved to Bishop mesa. The point is: 95% of Goleta residents moved in after IV and UCSB were already there, and either knew or should have known what IV & UCSB were. Indeed Goleta benefits enormously from the economic activity of IV & UCSB. It is up to the Goleta City folks to find the better angels of their nature and overcome their petty prejudices.

The attempt by the City of Goleta to seize Goleta West and its assets has poisoned all sorts of wells in IV and UCSB, particularly after the City's revenue gerrymandering with its boundaries.

The City of Goleta made its bed and now has to lie in it. A `my bad' issued by the City for the attempt of the Goleta West seizure would be a good start.

Then discussing annexation would make sense.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
January 26, 2014 at 8:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Looking forward to when Aceves and Bennett and Farr make a counteroffer to the County that includes annexation of Isla Vista and everything east to the SB city limit.

Until then, money talks and bovine feces walks.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
January 27, 2014 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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