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Public meeting looks to poll Heber residents on cityhood

June 12, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

HEBER — This township needs to become a city so it doesn't get "crunched in between El Centro and Calexico," according to George Aguilar, general manager of the Heber Public Utility District.

"If we don't act now El Centro and or Calexico will expand and swallow us up," Aguilar said.

When he leads a town hall meeting Wednesday, Aguilar will espouse cityhood.

The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the Heber Elementary School cafeteria and residents of the Heber township, business owners and property owners will have a chance to weigh in with their opinions.

If the majority of the citizens at the meeting support moving forward with the process of becoming a city, Aguilar said it will be put up for a vote in an election.

At the meeting, the utility district's attorney, Steve Walker of El Centro, will outline the steps for the township to become a city.

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If public response to Aguilar is any indicator, the residents of Heber will support whatever Walker has to say.

"They have told me they want respect," Aguilar said. "They want Heber to be respected as its own place. Heber has its own identity and its own unique history."

Another reason for cityhood, Aguilar said, are the taxes the city of Heber would capture.

"Right now almost two-thirds of the taxes generated in Heber goes to the county," Aguilar said.

He added: "If we were a city we would get a larger percentage of the tax revenue and have a say in county matters that affect us."

One of the matters he brought up is the California Department of Transportation's plan to reroute Highway 98.

Aguilar said that's would mean a sharp increase in trucks using Dogwood Road through areas of Heber where new homes and schools are planned.

"Right now we have no say in the matter. That's the problem," Aguilar said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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