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Community Center Is Reformed

Monday, July 30, 1990 - Santa Cruz Sentinel

Lompico Fights Back

By Pauline Halajian, Sentinel Correspondent

LOMPICO - Sometimes good things come out of a bad situation. In reaction to the loss of the Lompico Community Center, which the county sold to pay off back taxes more than a year ago, residents have come together and started a new community association. And one objective of the association os to retrieve part of the money from the sale of the damaged dilpidated center.

Residents learned in June that the $32,000 in excess proceeds from the $40,000 sale, after the the tax bill had been paid off would be absorbed into the county's general fund after a 90-day period. The community came together to do something about it.

They may not get the full $32,000 back, but are in the process of getting approximately $8,000 from the county.

The association was first started by two San Francisco men in 1929, and later incorporated. The club house burned in 1977, and part of it was rebuilt. But after the storm of '82 further damaged the center, interest died, and the county finally sold the the center to recoup the unpaid taxes.

Dan Barnett, president of the new Lompico Community Association, said the new organization became official July 16, "but meetings have been held weekly for over a month.

"When we found out that we lost the center and that we had no resources we came together, and it's amazing how far we've come in a short amount of time." said Barnett, "I'm confident that the county can work out an arrangement that will get our funds back."

The goal of the association is to buy back the property from Dawn Baker of Mountain View, who bought it along with the decaying community center in an auction in March 1989.

Baker is very willing to sell the property back to the community, but the community has to get the money back from the county first.

"We're not asking for a lot from the county," said Barnett, "We just want what is rightfully ours. We need this excess money - we have so much to do and so little to work with."

But Gary Knutson, county auditor-controller, said that under Proposition 13, all taxing agencies in the county received a share of the money.

"It would be more fair if the taxing entities in the community were to share the money rather than all the taxing agencies in the county, but that's not the way it works."

He said that unless the money is claimed within the 90-day period, the law says that monies from the excess peoceeds will be distributed by formula to approximately 90 taxing agencies within the county. "The county will get about 25 percent, which is $8,000." said Knutson.

Barnett said that because the association is new, it has no authority to file a claim against the full amount. The other option would be to sue, if the association felt the county had been negligent, but Barnett said the association doesn't believe that is the case.

Knutson said that, considering the money is not taxes, but excess proceeds from a sale, "It would be more fair if it were directed to the area where the monies were derived." said Knutson.

He said that what the county can do is when the money is apportioned, adopt a resolution and allocate the county's share for public purpose and spend it in that area. Four-fifths of the board must agree to such a plan.

And Fifth District Supervisor Fred Keeley has helped accomplish that.

"Whatever surplus funds are left under the law, it is my intent to have those funds spend in and for the Lompico community." he said.

"My thought was that the surplus funds from the sale were from the community cneter, which is no longer available to them. It would be tragic if they lost in both ways." He said he knows the community isn't getting all the money back, "But there is a principal, and that is that the community should be the beneficiary of these funds, whatever they might be. It might not be a sazable amount; nonetheless, they ought to be the beneficiary."

BArnett said, "We have a long way to go, and to loose this amount of money would be a tremendous blow, it would take all these positive things that are happening and shoot it to death." Barnet said that they now have between 60 and 79 members, but unless the membership goes up, he believes they won't see any improvements for the community.

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