SALIDA — A group of Salida residents has formed a chamber of commerce to promote business and the community – and work on creating a self-governing city, its leader said.
President Katherine Borges said articles of incorporation for the Salida Chamber of Commerce were filed with the Secretary of State on Oct. 1. Other officers are Vice President Gary Finch, Secretary Amanda Sorenson and Treasurer Sue Stevens.
The officers were installed Thursday evening in a ceremony at Stanislaus County Supervisor Terry Withrow’s business office in downtown Modesto. The chamber said it has 56 members, including businesses, residents and nonprofit groups.
The effort to organize the chamber came after Modesto began to explore annexation of its neighbor to the north last year. About 250 vocal Salida residents opposed the annexation at a Jan. 29 public meeting.
Borges believes Salida can remain its own community by becoming the 10th city in Stanislaus County, and the chamber’s role is to spearhead the campaign.
She said she turned in initial paperwork to the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees local agency boundaries. The documents answered questions about boundary lines, potential revenue sources and other issues.
One of the next steps is a fiscal study on whether the community of 13,700 straddling Highway 99 has a tax base to support city services. Proponents will need to hire a consultant for the study. Borges said there is no timeline for launching the study or holding an incorporation vote in Salida.
The chamber also will stay busy with typical chamber activities: holding mixers and ribbon-cuttings and welcoming new residents with baskets stuffed with coupons and information about schools, churches and local agencies.
The group was involved in a recent Love Salida cleanup day. It is charging annual dues of $50 for small businesses, $150 for businesses with more than 10 employees, $80 for nonprofit groups, $40 for homeowners, $20 for renters and $30 for seniors.
Withrow, whose district includes the county’s largest unincorporated town, said he was pleased with the new chamber of commerce. A previous chamber promoted Salida for decades, but it dwindled and its corporate status was suspended in 1990.
“I don’t know if (city incorporation) is doable right now,” Withrow said. “If it is feasible and Salida wants to move forward, I would support it.”
A study commissioned last year by Modesto and the county concluded Salida can generate $5.3 million in annual revenue, mostly from property and sales taxes. A city of Salida only could rely on $4.1 million unless something is done about Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision two years ago that disallowed vehicle license fees for any new cities in California.
Borges hopes a new study will produce solid cost estimates for running a small city government. A previous study suggested that law enforcement for Salida costs $3.4 million annually, even though a single deputy is assigned to the town today. Borges noted that Hughson has six deputies through a contract with the Sheriff’s Department, costing the city $1.12 million this year.
Salidans are waiting to see whether the Modesto City Council will include the unincorporated town in the city’s general plan update.
“There is no benefit for Salida if we annex into Modesto,” Borges said. “Salida would have more taxes, more laws and less representation in our affairs.”
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209)578-2321.