County airport back in Colusa’s court

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The Colusa County Board of Supervisors will allow the City of Colusa to draw the county airport into its proposed new city limits, but only if they so choose. 

The board offered that consent last week after declaring there is no impact to airport operations either way. 

While Colusa County LAFCO will make the final decision on the proposed annexation of Colusa Industrial Properties into the city, county officials said allowing Colusa to include the airport on the map would keep boundary lines neat and set the stage for guided growth in the years ahead.

“Functionally, whether it is in the city or out of the city, nothing changes,” said Chairman Kent Boes. 

From a legal prospective, the airport would remain county property, and county operations, zoning, and authority would continue as is, officials said. 

The Colusa City Council, however, had been back and forth on whether including the airport in the annexation proposal would be a potential benefit or hindrance, before deciding to leave it out. 

“We discussed this at the council level and decided to leave it out based on public opinion at our meetings,” said City Councilman Dave Markss. “We are pretty ambivalent on whether it is in or out. It does not make any difference to us.”

If annexed into the city limits, fire protection would remain with Sacramento River Fire. 

“It has been our intent since day one that the airport operations continue as is,” Markss said. 

The proposed 684-acre proposed annexation is comprised primarily of the Colusa Industrial Park. About 107 acres on Westcott Road are also included in the proposal, and will be annexed into Colusa as single-family residential property. 

Most of the project was anticipated for annexation when LAFCO adopted the City of Colusa sphere of influence in 2012. Fuel sales will still be revenue for the county, although both jurisdictions will have to come to an equitable agreement to share all taxes, which an ad hoc committee comprised of both jurisdictions has been working on for months. 

While the Board of Supervisors took no formal action at their Nov. 5 meeting, it was the consensus of Supervisors Boes, John Loudon, and Gary Evans to have Colusa include the airport in the annexation, if they choose. 

“It makes no difference,” Evans said. “It’s a line on the map.” 

However, officials did concede there could be potential benefits for the county if Colusa decides to take the airport in, including easy access to city services like water and sewer if development and expansion on airport property occurs. It is also possible that LAFCO would also require annexation in the future as to not create “an island” should the city eventually annex the east side of Highway 20, although much of it is currently tied to long-term conservation easements.  

“Whether (annexation) happens now or 50 years from now, it’s going to happen,” Boes said. 

Officials said a potential benefit to the City of Colusa to annex the airport might be a portion of the sales tax revenue on airport fuel sales, and the potential for more tax revenue should voters eventually concede to a quarter or half cent sales tax increase to help fund city operations, which Colusa would receive in entirety. 

Supervisors Denise Carter and Merced Corona acquiesced to the majority that the airport be annexed into the City of Colusa, although they still had some misgivings. 

“I’m just concerned that there might be some reason that we shouldn’t do this,” Carter said. 

Colusa Planning Commissioner Richard Selover said Colusa officials have similar misgivings, although there should be no negative effect on the city as long as the county maintains full control and responsibility over airport operations. ■