This may be most important Council election yet

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On November 8, 2016, an election will be held for three City Council seats. Each seat up for election will be for a full four-year term. The nomination period for these offices began July 18 and will end today, August 12, at 12 noon (unless an incumbent fails to file). If an incumbent fails to file by deadline, the nomination period will be extended for all non-incumbents to August 17, at 5 p.m.

All people interested in running for City Council are encouraged to seek an appointment to pull nomination papers, and a separate appointment to return papers, to ensure that staff is on hand to assist in ensuring the documents are complete and correct before finishing the filing.

City Manager Aaron Palmer has advised that the City cannot make the names of those who have already pulled papers public until the filing period closes.

As citizens consider those who are running for City Council, questions may come to mind. Will this new Council be the one to see a breakthrough in Public Safety funding or will they see the bankruptcy and/or disincorporation of the City, with possible annexation to a neighboring city?

George Spiliotis, executive officer for the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), gave an informational presentation to City Council on the subject of disincorporation several weeks ago. To be clear, the City Council is not considering the option at this time; just seeking information.

As explained by Spiliotis, the subject is complicated, and it’s clear the process of disincorporation would be as difficult as becoming a city in the first place.

With such an important subject on the table, citizens may want to take a closer look at this year’s Council candidates and find out where they stand on the subject of disincorporation. Do they believe it’s an option the City should strongly consider, or an option the City should strongly avoid until there are no other options available? What do they see as the advantages and/or disadvantages to disincorporation?

Other questions to ask? The consulting company, ESCI, recommended that, before the City chooses any option for fire services, elected officials and staff need to establish strategies to address and secure long-term financial resources. How important is the utility user tax to Canyon Lake’s ability to pay for public safety now and in the future?

If the candidate deems continuance of the tax necessary, how confident are they that voters will approve a UUT or similar tax in the future? Under what conditions (e.g. opening Station 60) do they believe citizens would approve a new tax?

Due to the so-far prohibitive costs of staying with CalFire/Riverside County Fire in the future, the City Council has been looking into a Joint Powers Authority with neighboring cities for fire and police protection. With uncertainty about voter approval of such a tax, how strong is Canyon Lake’s position in negotiating a JPA with neighboring cities for fire and police protection?

What about the potential of developing BLM land within the City’s sphere of influence in order to bring in more property taxes? And what if the City disincorporates and no longer has a sphere of influence over the BLM properties adjacent to Canyon Lake’s northern boundaries?

Bottom Line: citizens will want to know if Council candidates are doing their homework.

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Sharon Rice