Maxwell Parks District operating at loss 

The Maxwell Parks and Recreation District Board of Directors last week received a draft copy of an engineer report that, when finalized, will be presented at a public Town Hall meeting to justify a need to raise property taxes to fund recreational programs for youth. The district has proposed to increase the tax assessment to $64.50 (billed twice a year at $32.25) for all parcels with a dwelling located in Maxwell, and a per acre fee for farmland without a dwelling. 

The MPR district has the same boundaries as the Maxwell Fire Protection District, officials said. 

David Swartz, the professional engineer commissioned by the board to prepare the report, confirmed at the board’s Jan. 21 meeting that the district is operating at a loss. 

Swartz said Maxwell property owners have paid $15 per parcel per year since the assessment district was established in 1985. The revenue provides the district an operating budget of about $13,000 per year to run recreational program and provide activities for youth. 

With other revenue sources, such as pool rental, the district’s total revenue for 2017-18 was about $17,800, he said. 

“The approximate expenses incurred during the same budget year was about $32,000, which resulted in a net operating loss of $15,120,” Swartz added. 

The proposed $50 increase, if passed, would be applied uniformly to all 598 parcels within the district with a dwelling. Owners of the 307 parcels less than 43 acres without a dwelling will pay a minimum of $12.90 per year. Owners of the 302 parcels that are 43 acres or greater without a residence will be asked to pay 30 cents per acre, or $30 per hundred acres. 

The proposed assessment is about three-fourths the assessment of Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District, which operates similar programs, but would still provide the MPR district with about $57,700 per year, which officials said would be enough to meet their needs without annual increases.  

District officials said if the assessment increase is approved, the district, in addition to current programs, could gradually complete a number of projects noted in their recent capital improvement plan, such as completing an income survey for grant-seeking purposes, refurbishing the baby pool, and facility improvements, such as heating and air conditioning and ADA compliant restrooms, although they expect it will take a number of years to achieve their goals.  

“We’re planning for tomorrow, not just planning for today,” said MPR Treasurer Randy Wilkins. 

If the Proposition 218 process is completed and approved by Aug. 1, the new rates would provide revenue for the district’s 2020-21 budget cycle, Swartz said. If the process is completed and approved after Aug. 1, the revenue would not be generated until the 2021-22 budget cycle. 

Meanwhile, the district expects to exhaust the remainder of its reserves this year, Wilkins said. In order to keep the pool and community center open, the Maxwell Parks and Recreation Auxiliary Committee, which was formed in 2018 under the Community Foundation of Colusa County, is planning several fundraisers in 2019 to keep the district afloat. 

If the assessment increase does not pass, MPR officials said they would eventually have to close the pool and sell the community center building, as fundraising would not support the necessary improvements required to bring the pool or building into compliance with state law. 

The draft engineer report is under review by the Colusa County Counsel’s Office, and could be finalized at the MPR District’s Feb. 11 meeting. 

In other matters, Wilkins was selected on Jan. 21 to serve as president of the board the remainder of 2019. Director Dale Johnson will serve as vice-president; Kyle Miller will serve as Secretary; and Andre Young will serve as treasurer. 

The board plans to meet at 8:30 PM the second Monday of each month at the Maxwell Community Center, 64 Oak St., albeit subject to change for special circumstances. ■