Victorville officials are accusing Hesperia officials of illegally poaching a Toyota dealership and will likely sue according to two Hesperia councilmen.

At Wednesday's Hesperia City Council meeting, Deputy Victorville City Attorney Heidi von Tongeln presented a six-page letter objecting to a proposed deal between Hesperia and Browning Desert Properties, the owner of Valley-Hi Toyota.

Toyota Motor Sales USA has ordered local dealerships to upgrade their existing locations, requiring that they operate on a minimum of 13.3 acres and have immediate freeway access by 2012. Valley-Hi Toyota's Victorville location is on a 7-acre lot, below even the current 12.8-acre standard required by Toyota.

Kent Browning, the owner of Browning Desert Properties, approached Hesperia about buying a 16.701-acre parcel on Amargosa Road owned by the city's redevelopment agency. Browning Desert Properties will pay $5.85 million for the property.

And on Wednesday, in the public hearing on the issue before the Hesperia City Council voted on the deal, the Victorville government cried foul.

In the letter presented by von Tongeln, the City of Victorville and the Victorville Redevelopment Agency claim the agreements between Hesperia and Browning Desert Properties "constitute a thinly veiled attempt to skirt several state provisions prohibiting redevelopment agencies and cities from providing assistance to automobile dealerships in order to poach those automobile dealerships from neighboring jurisdictions."

The Victorville letter accuses the Hesperia redevelopment agency of selling the property at below fair market value, in violation of state law. Hesperia will also be refunding 50 percent of the dealership's sales tax revenue for the first 10 years the dealership is open (Browning is required to operate the car dealership in Hesperia for 15 years), which the Victorville letter alleges "constitutes a gift of public funds," another violation of state law. And finally, the letter alleges Hesperia officials actively sought to get Browning to move his dealership to Hesperia, yet another violation of state law.

The Hesperia City Council, which took a five-minute recess during the meeting to read through the letter, voted 5-0, and without discussion, to approve the sale of the land.

"We knew it was going to happen. They think we went out and recruited Valley-Hi, which we didn't," Mayor Pro Tem Mike Leonard said later. "Victorville, I guess, has nothing to offer as far as acreage."

"Every single issue that they've brought up were things we anticipated and addressed," Councilman Tad Honeycutt said.

The stakes are high for both cities: A staff report by the city of Hesperia estimates that the new Toyota dealership -- which may or may not be called Valley-Hi Toyota -- will bring in an estimated $900,000 in sales tax revenue the first year it's open for business.

"They probably make about a million dollars a year in tax revenue," Honeycutt said.

The new Toyota dealership, whatever it's called, will almost certainly jump into one of the top two slots for sales tax producers for the city of Hesperia once it opens.

"I just looked at the top tax generators," Leonard said. "I think what you're going to see on top, of course, is Affordable RV."

But the rest of the list feature stores that will find it hard to compete with the sales tax generated on $10,000 to $30,000 purchases.

"Walgreens, In-n-Out Burger," Leonard said, running down the list. "It's kind of strange to have hamburgers as one of your top [tax revenue generators]."

The letter presented by von Tongeln may be a precursor to legal action, according to both councilmen.

"I would not be surprised" if Victorville sued, Honeycutt said.

"I'm sure they will [pursue legal action]," Leonard said. "That's a lot of bucks driving away from their city."

"I am certain we will prevail," Honeycutt said.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.