It has been more than 30 years since the Maxwell Parks and Recreations District was established, and revenue generated from property taxes have long stopped covering expenses to fund programs that encourage participation and create a stronger and more connected community, officials said at their July 2 meeting.

The Recreation Board voted 4-1 last week, with director Chelsea Dirks dissenting, to start a process that could lead to property owners weighing in on whether to increase the assessment tax that generates funding used primarily for youth sports and managing the town’s swimming pool.

Property owners currently pay $15 per year on all parcels within the district that has a dwelling or 7 cents per acre on land without a dwelling, which generates about $13,000 in revenue – or about half the district’s annual expenses.

“There has been no inflation on those numbers,” Treasurer Randy Wilkins said. “It has been the same since 1985.”

The board last week approved hiring David Swartz, a civil engineer and CEO of California Engineering Co., to complete the initial statutory requirements of Proposition 218 before they decide whether to move forward with a request for a tax increase, either as a protest ballot mailed to property owners or as a ballot measure in a general election.

Directors last week said they are leaning more toward a mail ballot that allows only the property owners who pay the tax a voice.

In order to move forward, the board hired Swartz to update the assessment district’s boundaries, develop the capital improvement plan that justifies a tax increase, and to help them develop three potential assessment options for the ballot.

The board approved a total cost for the initial engineering services in the amount of $6,250, which, upon completion, will give district officials a better idea how much of an increase will be needed to fund or expand programs. The town pool, which costs about $18,000 a year to operate, is currently dependent almost entirely upon donations, which officials said may not be sustainable as the cost of chemicals and labor continue to increase.

The MPR board also envisions the creation of community center inside the former Stage Lines building, and possibly the development of a neighborhood park, providing grant funding can be obtained under Proposition 68, which California voters approved on June 5.
Once Swartz completes the capital improvement plan, the board will have a better idea how much of an increase property owners will be asked to pay.

“Even a 100 percent increase isn’t that much money,” Wilkins said. “It would only be $30 a year.”