LAFCO Delays Release of East LA Cityhood Study

Analysis release postponed to July 13.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

East Los Angeles cityhood proponents have been anxiously awaiting the results of a Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of the unincorporated area’s ability to financially sustain itself as an independent city.

Last week, the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA) learned that the agency overseeing the study, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), has moved the CFA’s release from June 22 to July 13, and bumped a public hearing on the results from Aug. 10 to Sept. 14.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Retrazan la Liberación del Estudio de las Finanzas del Este de Los Ángeles

Though they know there is no guarantee the study will find, as an earlier unofficial study did, that there is enough tax revenue in the area to support all the costs associated with running a city, ELARA members say they are convinced the new study will show unincorporated East Los Angeles generates enough revenue to become a city.

ELARA volunteers, who have spent four years pushing for the study, expressed disappointment in the delay, but noted it gives them more time to plan outreach efforts to support their cityhood campaign.

The report’s release had been delayed because a utility company has not yet provided all the information needed, according to the LAFCO staff report and members of ELARA. The release date was also changed to accommodate a LAFCO Commissioner who is unavailable on June 22.

At the ELARA meeting on June 9, volunteers summarized what it has taken to get to this point, detailing the petition signature drives and the fundraisers to pay for the CFA.

“We’re expecting July 13 to be the date when we finally get to see what this fiscal analysis looks like,” Kristie Hernandez told the dozen or so people at the meeting. “We’re really excited about that. We’re disappointed about the pushback, however we are definitely going to pull ahead…we’re hopeful they won’t push the date back any further.”

Gustavo Camacho, ELARA treasurer, said the group has already been receiving raw data
and are trying to get assistance from financial experts to help them make sense of the information. Camcho also noted that ELARA will not receive the completed study before the rest of the public.

“We were going to have an opportunity with the county to sit down and listen to the presentation before the draft was released, unfortunately, because of disagreements as to approach, they ended up pulling the plug on that,” he said. “Our thing was, is it protocol? Is it LAFCO process? Or is it courtesy? And the answer they came up with is: no, this is a courtesy. Without getting too many people involved, they said why don’t we hold off on that. And so we’ve been pushing it, they gave us the data.”

Camacho who is a Pico Rivera councilman as well as an East LA and businessman, said the group is trying to get finance directors and city managers they know to help them interpret the data on a pro bono basis.

“We are trying to anticipate the CFA so when it does get released, we’re better prepared to provide comment,” he said.

Once the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis is released, there will be a 30-day period for public comments and two weeks into that period, LAFCO will have a public hearing on the study. ELARA members say they want to have their own Town Hall a week after the study is released and one week before LAFCO’s meeting in order to maximize the public’s opportunity to have an informed opinion.

The new study is more exact and detailed compared to the Initial Fiscal Analysis which showed unincorporated East LA had a surplus of revenues. The initial study was based on comparable cities and used formulas to calculate revenues and expenses, they said.

Volunteers are planning a CFA release “readiness” workshop sometime in the near future to review the study and prepare to answer questions on it.

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June 16, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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