After nearly a month of planning and discussion, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors officially announced its unanimous opposition to a proposal that would divide the county in half.

Last Tuesday, Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone and First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal presented the Board with a ballot argument against Measure H – a proposal to divide Santa Barbara County into separate northern and southern counties. The supervisors passed the document unanimously, signaling their official opposition to the split.

Kelley Kaufman, office manager and field representative for Firestone, said the board’s opinion on the issue will appear on the ballot when the measure goes to local voters in June.

Kaufman said she thinks Firestone is satisfied with the final wording of the argument. She said the supervisors made some minor revisions to the document’s wording and she thinks all the supervisors were pleased with the final product.

“The draft ballot argument came before the Board,” Kaufman said. “It was tweaked, made comfortable for everyone and passed. I think [Firestone] is satisfied that they all came to reach an agreement.”

The revisions made to the ballot argument included changes to the introductory and concluding sentences. The sentences, “Please Vote NO on Measure H” and “We strongly urge you to NO on Measure H” were eliminated from the document.

In the argument, the supervisors said a split would cause confusion, unnecessary expenses and other problems in the future. According to the document, the northern part of the county would be renamed Mission County and could suffer from a $30,000,000 annual revenue shortfall during the next 10 years if the split is passed. The supervisors also said a split could cause disputes between the proposed northern and southern counties that might only be resolved by arbitration and legal action.

According to the document, both new counties would also have to pay start-up costs and deal with the disruption of county services as the proposed new counties get settled. The supervisors also said the extra costs of splitting the counties would cause taxes to go up in both areas.

Dave Cross, a director of Citizens For County Organization, Inc., said he disagrees with the Board’s official ballot argument. He said he thinks the board’s decision could unfairly influence voters.

“I’m very disappointed because they decided to take a position to influence the public,” Cross said. “And some things in their position letter were just plain false.”

Cross said he thinks the board’s ballot argument is incorrect. He said he thinks the county split would be a good thing for the northern part of Santa Barbara because it would allow northern county residents to have more control over their government.

“A new county would not mean enormous confusion and unnecessary hardship,” Cross said. “We will exist as a strong, independent county that is more reflective of the lifestyle and needs of the people.”