By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

The first stage of annexing the Harbor District into Crescent City is near completion, according to City Manager Dave Wells.

Its not a done deal by any means, but this new financial data gives us the information we need to negotiate with the county, Wells said.

Del Norte County has been providing the harbor with public services, such as road maintenance and fire protection. If annexed by the city, the harbor will get lower rates on water, a higher level of police protection and will be eligible for a bigger share of federal and state funds than under the county.

Its important to note, according to Wells, the Harbor District will remain an independent governing body, as it did under the county. The main difference is in who is providing their public services.

Their piece of the pie wont be cut by getting annexed, Wells said. And this wont cause changes to their property taxes, either.

Heated arguments between Harbor Commissioners a few months ago generated rumors that the district would dissolve if annexed.

Those rumors carried over to the present as the city announced annexation efforts but all are untrue, Wells said.

Some thought annexation was meant to (dissolve the harbors governing body), he said. Were not going to do anything to influence the decisions of the Harbor Commission.

Wells also said the city has not dragged its feet on the annexation application. Delays stem from the Sacramento based financial consultant hired to analyze the costs and possible revenues of the process.

And it is this information that makes for the first step in annexation talks, where the city and county to work out how to share the property taxes.

Del Norte County will want to get a significant share to cover costs of road maintenance, which they will continue if annexation occurs. And Crescent City will need its share to cover the cost of providing its services, according to Wells.

So, once all the costs involved are balanced against all the revenues from property tax, sales tax and hotel tax, the city and county can make a decision and move to the next step.

Its a complicated process and may take another four months, Wells said.

When its all said and done, the economic development of the Harbor District could blossom.

Thats true, because by itself, the harbors not eligible for the same kinds of grants and funding that the city is. Like block grants, for example, said Wells.

And, he said, because the city is physically smaller than the county, the harbor can get a bigger share of those funds under the city. That will make expansions and improvements more possible for the harbor.

Annexation to the city also should make water and sewer services more available to expanding businesses on harbor properties, according to city policies.