The Mountain House Community Services District took a step toward becoming the city of Mountain House on Wednesday when the board authorized a study on the costs and benefits of incorporation.

General Manager Steven Pinkerton noted that the process, which would make Mountain House the 483rd city in the state of California, dates back to 2015. Since then, the CSD has meetings and commissioned reports to gauge the feasibility of incorporation.

On Wednesday, the board agreed to hire Berkson Associates of San Anselmo at a cost of $54,220 to prepare a feasibility analysis for incorporation. The consultant will compare the cost of running the city, both now and when its master plan is complete, with the revenue gained from property and sales taxes and revenue from special assessment districts within Mountain House.

Pinkerton expects the study will take four to six months to complete and will provide valuable information to the CSD regardless of whether the board choses to move forward with incorporation.

“What this allows us to do is take the initiative, instead of having a third party or the county or someone do most of the compilation,” he said.

“Whether you decide to go forward or not, I think this will be a very valuable exercise for us to go through as a district, to get a better grasp of where we will be five to 10 years from now,” he added, adding that the study should be complete at about the same time he will be putting together the 2020-21 budget. “We need to do a more comprehensive five- to 10-year CIP (capital improvement project plan) than we’ve done in the past anyway, so it’s really good timing to do this at this point in time.”

The consultant will prepare an application to the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission, the government entity that regulates borders and jurisdictions of cities and special districts, and also lay the groundwork for an election that would have Mountain House residents voting on incorporation.

The CSD also needs to be able to compare the costs of government functions as they exist today with the costs of running those operations post-incorporation, including examination of municipal budgets from similar-sized cities. Daily operating costs, as well as the cost of capital projects such as roadways, water, sewer and storm drain facilities and other infrastructure are also part of the equation.

The board approved the contract on a unanimous vote.

“I think it’s a timely thing to do,” said Bernice King-Tingle, the board president. “We have started to grow and the commercial building is coming and it’s an opportune time to put ourselves in position to get our market share of sales tax and what have you.”

Contact Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com or 830-4227.

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