NEWMAN - Finances were at the heart of two recent agreements struck between the city of Newman and Stanislaus County.

The two agencies recently agreed on a property tax sharing agreement which allows the city’s Northwest Newman annexation request to move forward, and reached a settlement on the county’s share of funding to help offset the traffic impacts of the planned Crows Landing air base business/industrial park.

The City Council signed off on both accords in May, and the county Board of Supervisors has also given its blessings to those agreements.

City Manager Michael Holland said the tax-sharing agreement reached on the 370-acre Northwest Newman project, a mix of commercial, business park and residential development, increases the percentage of property tax which will stay in Newman.

“We were able to work with the county to get a more reasonable property tax split,” Holland told Mattos Newspapers. “We use those property taxes to provide services such as police and fire protection, and recreational opportunities. The more local dollars we can keep, the better off the residents are.”

Upon annexation of the property, the county will continue to receive its full share of the existing “base” tax but agrees to divide its share of future property tax increases with the city. Under the new formula the two agencies will split the county’s share of new property tax revenue 50-50 on commercial/job generating property. The county will receive 60 percent of the tax increases on residential properties, while 40 percent will go to the city.

Under a previous agreement, Holland said, the county would have kept 70 percent of new property taxes generated, while the city would have received 30 percent of the new tax revenues.

Holland said the tax-sharing resolution allows the city to submit its Northwest Newman Phase I annexation request to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the land-use authority which must approve any expansion of the city limits.

Holland said he anticipates initiating LAFCO proceedings in the late summer to early fall.

In the meantime, he told Mattos Newspapers, city officials will meet once again with property owners to update them on the status of the annexation. He said the city will also internally evaluate whether the Phase I annexation should be expanded to include some residential land uses as well as the commercial/business park designations.

Crows Landing accord

A settlement was also reached on the city’s litigation challenging Stanislaus County’s proposed share of intersection improvements on Highway 33 at Stuhr, Jensen, Yolo and Inyo in order to accommodate the increased traffic volumes expected to be generated by the air base industrial park project.

The county’s initial report indicated that 28 percent of future traffic volume increases would be attributed to the Crows Landing project, Holland said, but proposed that the county pay 14 percent of the improvement costs.

The county agreed in the settlement agreement to pay the 28 percent of improvement costs.

“It is only appropriate that the county pay 28 percent of the cost,” Holland stated.

The issue is of financial consequence, he added, because the cost of the improvements may well run into seven figures. The traffic plan calls for four traffic lanes on Highway 33 through Newman and traffic signals at each of the intersections, he noted.

Holland said the city hopes to land a grant to complete a comprehensive plan for the Highway 33 corridor, from Stuhr Road to the county line.

“What is that going to look like; who do we need land from? This is a 30-year project,” he commented. “Let’s get it all planned out now.”