MPR gets first look at possible Prop 218 proposal 

The Maxwell Parks and Recreation board got its first look at what new rates might look like if property owners agree to kick in a little more for programs that would support not just youth, but adults and senior citizens. 

From 1985 to 2018, property taxes to support recreation programs for Maxwell residents should have naturally increased from $15 to about $35, if the district had adjusted rates annually based on the natural rate of inflation. 

“That is what people agreed to back in 1985/86,” said David Swartz, the district engineer hired to help the MPR through a Proposition 218 process. “It’s about the same as one Starbucks cup of coffee a month.” 

MPR officials said that even a 4-to-8 percent increase, normalized to the rate of inflation, would set rates far lower than what property owners pay in other recreation districts in rural areas. Arbuckle property owners pay about $87 a year to support recreational programs, and have agreed to annual cost of living adjustments. 

MPR board members said they hope property owners will agree to a single rate increase now – the first since the district was formed 34 years ago – which would allow them to eventually grow recreation opportunities, maintain a functional community center, keep the pool open, or possibly develop a town park. 

As a property owner, MPR Treasurer Randy Wilkins said he would rather pay a higher amount now and not be subjected to annual rate increases. 

“It’s like ripping the Band Aid off all at once,” he said. 

Swartz presented a snapshot of the possible rates that property owners could be asked to support at a meeting last month at the new Community Center, located on Oak Street. 

Property owners currently pay $15 a year per parcel with a residence or 7 cents an acre for farmland without a residence, which brings the district less than $15,000 in annual revenue. 

Swartz said options for the MPR board to consider are a 2.08 percent normalized increase to $25.29 (12 cents an acre); a 4.08 percent increase to $35.15 (16 cents an acre); or a six percent increase to $45.27 (21 cents an acre), or even more, depending on the willingness of property owners to support or build programs.

“Property taxes are billed twice a year,” Wilkins said. “Even if we asked for 6 percent, that is just a little over $22 every six month.” 

Although a 2.08 percent increase would increase revenue to $23,867 a year, MPR officials said that would likely not be enough to maintain its programs, operate a community center, and keep the pool open, largely due to the increasing cost of labor and operating expenses. 

A 6.08 percent increase, which would increase revenue to $41,778, would put MPR in better position to maintain programs, as well as allow them to save a little money annually to perform an occasional capital improvement. 

Ideally, Swartz said the rates should allow the district to operate its current programs, fund an occasional capital improvement, and have enough revenue in a year or two to perform an income survey ($20,000) and fund a grant writer to apply for grants, such as Proposition 68, a bond approved by voters in the June 5, 2018 election to fund outdoor programs in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. 

The MPR board will continue discussing the Prop 218 process at upcoming regular meetings, and will hold at least one public hearing to hear from property owners before issuing a protest ballot. ■