Truth about claims in letter by
County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn

This letter was sent by County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn. This is legally an opinion of Joe Harn as an individual, despite the fact that it is sent on County Letterhead using his title as county Auditor-Controller.

See additional notes below the annotated letter.

Harn letter letterhead

First deception:  

This is mailed on El Dorado County letterhead as Auditor-Controller of the county. In fact this represents only Joe Harn as an individual. The only clue that this letter may not be an expression of formally adopted County policy is the small disclaimer at the bottom indicating that it was not paid for at public expense and absence of the county seal. These points would not be apparent to most recipients.

Dear Taxpayers,

    Measure P is a fiscal train wreck.
This is false. El Dorado Hills incorporation is fiscally viable and successful under all scenarios examined in the CFA. The CFA assumes the same level of service now supplied by the county and no increases in taxes or fees.  Its analysis of a 9-year study period predicts budget surpluses that range from $12 million in the worst case reported to $49 million in the best case reported.

    The supporters of incorporating El Dorado Hills as a new city keep talking about how much money the city will have. They are basing everything on the "Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis" required by state law.
This is correct. State law for incorporation, the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, dictates that the CFA is the definitive finding of fact for evaluation of future fiscal viability. The legal framework executed by LAFCO is structured to provide the best available factual information and fiscal projections, and ample opportunity for dissenting individuals to challenge the study.

    But they are only highlighting the numbers they like.
This is false. Proponents encourage citizens to read the entire CFA .

    Here is Table 2 "General Fund Revenue Comparison Summary" comparing the new city to "Similarly Sized Cities".
The statement "Here is Table 2" is misleading and is partially false. Table 2 in the CFA's Comparative City Analysis Section is a 2-page table; the copy attached to this letter includes only page 2, not page 1, and it was edited to omit the "Page 2 of 2" notation which is present in the upper right corner of this page in the original CFA document.

In providing only half of Table 2 Joe Harn has done precisely what his preceding paragraph claimed cityhood supporters were doing.

Comparisons between a new city and long-established cities of similar size tend to be misleading at face value: Statistics for these similarly sized cities suggest a probable range to expect for the new city at some point in the future, not when it is newly incorporated. This is why the omitted half of Table 2 is a comparison with recently incorporated cities. In terms of municipal maturity of the cities in the second part of Table 2, Folsom was founded in 1856, incorporated in 1946. Rocklin was incorporated in 1893. West Sacramento was settled in Gold Rush times, incorporated in 1987.  Yuba City was incorporated in 1908.

    Did you notice per capita revenues for El Dorado Hills will be LESS than Yuba City? Or that per capita fees will be twice as high as any other cities on the chart?

The first assection is misleading. The older similarly sized cities have higher revenue per capita, but EDH is virtually tied with Goleta for highest per capita revenue among newly incorporated cities ($373 for EDH, $393 for Goleta). The average among the newly incorporated cities is $309.75 per capita.

The second assertion is false and misleading. Table 2 lists revenue from several different types of fees and permits. Franchise fees are $11 per capita in EDH, all other cities average $16 per capita. "Fees and Permits" are $53 per capita in EDH, all other cities average $27.63, new cities average $39.25, and the most expensive city is Oakley, not EDH, at $84 per capita.

    And we still have only 50% of the funds for city services that Folsom has? 

This is close (55%, not 50%) but is misleading. In addition to the issue of comparing a new city to a long-established city, to suggest that Folsom's revenue per capita is a desired target is to suggest that our city should be a city like Folsom. This is not a popular opinion in El Dorado Hills.

Folsom has heavy commercial development. Folsom's largest revenue source is sales tax, accounting for 41% of its General Fund Revenues. Folsom's second largest source of revenue is property tax, at 23% of General Fund revenue.

The effect of Joe Harn's statement is to advocate that El Dorado Hills should host commercial and housing development on the scale of Folsom's. This is a very unpopular opinion among the total population of El Dorado Hills.

General dislike of excess development in EDH is a well-known political fact. Proponents of the 2004 County General Plan used a slogan of "Control Growth, Fix Traffic" as a result of pre-campaign polling, even though this General Plan was chosen to maximize growth and minimize investment in traffic infrastructure. The same knowledge  is why deceptive letters by other Measure P opponents claim that incorporating as a city will bring excessive growth, when in fact they refer to growth already entitled under Specific Plan development agreements negotiated with developers by the county.

    With only $2 million in sales taxes projected for El Dorado Hills, the per capita revenues will be $373. Folsom collects $17 million in sales taxes giving them $679 in per capita revenue to run their city.

This is deceptive. The same table shows El Dorado Hills property tax revenues at $218 per capita, Folsom's at $153 per capita. Sales tax is Folsom's largest revenue source, property tax is El Dorado Hills' largest revenue source.

    The net result is clear: per capita fees will be higher and the revenues available for basic services will be lower.

This is deceptive in the context presented in this letter and is factually false. The comparison relevant to whether El Dorado Hills should be an incorporated city or an unincorporated part of the county is between projected fiscal results for each of those two circumstances.

The CFA states that operation as an incorporated city will generate budget surpluses while maintaining services at the level now provided as an unincorporated area and without increases in taxes and fees.

If the letter's assertion of cityhood being fiscally problematical were true, then it would also be true that continuing as an unincorporated area of the county is even more fiscally problematical.

    How is that a good deal?

    We urge you to vote NO on Measure P!

Joe Harn signature
Harn letter, footnote disclaiming public funding

Additional Notes

Joe Harn is part of RECON, this web author's name for the Real Estate / COnstruction Network that appears to be coordinated mainly through decisions of the El Dorado County Republican Central Committee. Harn's own campaign funding in recent years has come almost entirely from developers. That is made evident in these campaign disclosure statements submitted by the Committee To Elect Joe Harn:     6/30/2005 Disclosure Form    1/30/2003 Disclosure Form    6/30/2002 Disclosure Form

The copy below is a transliteration of Joe Harn's letter into html format for this web page, annotated in red print to identify false and deceptive statements.

Additional reference material is:

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