Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/30/2010 06:12:16 AM PST

FONTANA – Annexation has cooled in the last couple of years and it looks like it might be put on ice after the city squares off its corporate boundaries on the south side.

“I don’t think I see us going forward unless some state legislation made it really attractive to go forward and do some annexation,” Mayor Mark Nuaimi said Friday.

The city later this year hopes to initiate plans to annex 472 acres on the south side of the 10 Freeway between Mulberry and Almond avenues north of Jurupa Avenue.

The move would affect about 390 residents.

The city has brought in more than 14,000 county residents since it drafted an annexation program in 2000. Overall population has exploded from 117,395 to roughly 190,000.

City property has expanded from 35 square miles to 42.4 square miles.

While the sphere of influence is 52.4 square miles, about 20,000 residents on county land in the west end stretching to Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga could be waiting a long time to join the city.

The mayor said a 2008 joint agreement with San Bernardino County has enabled the city to capture revenue on the unincorporated west side and apply it to improvement projects there.

Nuaimi said the agreement has been effective in funding the types of projects the city would hope to do through annexation.

The agreement calls for the county to set aside 37 percent of the sales tax generated in the city’s unincorporated western sphere of influence.

The city in return provides sewer service in the unincorporated area and sets aside development fees collected from new sewer costumers for use on projects in the sphere, which includes the 3,167-acre Speedway Redevelopment Area.

The sales tax set aside is based on the estimated annual debt service the county would have incurred for operating a sewer system.

2nd District Supervisor Paul Biane said the agreement has allowed the agencies to bank roughly $4 million for improvements.

Projects so far have included landscape maintenance and trash cleanups at the interchange of the 10 Freeway and Cherry Avenue, and an online graffiti-tracking service used by the West Foothill Sheriff’s Station. “I think probably what I’m looking forward to in the next couple of years is funding a park for the residents of Fontana to enjoy,” Biane said. “Another (project) we hopefully will be able to work on is the Boys and Girls Clubs.”Biane said the clubs could be expanded at middle schools in the area.

Both Nuaimi and Biane said business owners in the unincorporated area are concerned about possible tax increases and code enforcement issues that may accompany annexation.

“When you look at the manufacturing that’s in place in unincorporated Fontana, it’s the muscle of the county,” Biane said. “I think right now we’ve struck that perfect balance.”

Nuaimi said that keeping revenue from leaking into other county jurisdictions is always better for the city, but annexation has been more about providing better service than scoring dollars.

The city in 2006 conducted a cost analysis of annexing the 32 county islands that brought in the bulk of the new residents.

The analysis indicated recurring revenues would total $4,281,478 minus total recurring costs of $4,239,988, according to Cecilia Lopez-Henderson, the annex program coordinator.

The recurring surplus was estimated at $41,490 per year.

The mandated analysis requires cities to demonstrate they can provide services to annexed residents.

The annexation program overall has brought in an average of an additional $3.8 million a year in property taxes, sales taxes and vehicle license fees, said Lisa Strong, management services director and deputy city treasurer.

But City Manager Ken Hunt said the city has not reviewed the costs of the annexations.

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