Maxwell Park and Rec District lowers tax proposal request 

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The Maxwell Park and Recreation District Board of Directors decided last week to take a more conservative approach to increasing revenue to fund programs for youth and adults. 

The MPR board voted 4-0 on Jan. 20 to move forward with a Proposition 218 process in 2020 but have reduced their original tax proposal of $64.50 per residential parcel to $$45.27. 

The assessment would be billed twice a year at $22.64, and is equivalent to $3.77 a month.  

“I think we would have a better shot at it passing at that rate than the higher rate,” said MPR President Kyle Miller. 

The Maxwell Park and Recreation District was established in 1985, when the current $15 assessment was established. It has not been raised since, officials said. 

In addition to running the recreational basketball program that serves about 80 youth, the MPR hosts community events, has purchased a building for a community center, and operates the town pool, all which currently rely on donations and fundraising to overcome an operating deficit of about $30,000 a year, according to a 2018 engineer’s report completed by California Engineer Company, at the start of the Proposition 218 process. 

If the measure passes, the new assessment proposal would increase the district’s annual revenue from $14,636 a year to $41,778. Pool maintenance and operations currently cost the district about $23,000 a year, and the MPR board has a capital improvement plan that eyes ADA compliant bathrooms, a new roof, a grassy park area with irrigation, and amenities like picnic tables, barbecue pit, and a solar pergola (shade structure). 

The board would also need to complete an income survey ($20,000) in order to qualify for available state grants or low-interest loans that provide recreational facilities and services in socio-economically disadvantaged communities, according to the engineer’s report. 

The board plans to use MK Election Services, of Merced, to oversee the Proposition 218 process, and expects to have a contract and the process underway in the coming months. The cost of the election will be about $7,200, which the board considered when they decided to lower the proposed assessment, hopefully to avoid a “costly” failure, Miller said. 

The new proposal, as decided last week, will be $45.27 for all parcels with a dwelling located with the district’s boundaries; .21 cents per acre for farmland without a dwelling that is 43 acres or more; and a flat fee of $9.05 per year for parcels without a dwelling that are less than 43 acres. 

The proposed assessments are less than half those in similar-sized districts, including Arbuckle Park and Recreation District, which was established in 2007 at $75 per single family home, with an annual cost-of-living increase built in.   

Maxwell officials said their proposal would be one time only and would not increase again until, by law, the district undertakes another Proposition 218 measure, which is not likely for some time.

The Proposition 218 process will consist of a mail-only ballot to owners of real property located within the district boundaries. 

The board will have to conduct one public hearing before the ballots are issued, and one on Election Day (no sooner that 45 days after mailing) to count the responses, officials said. 

If the majority (50 percent plus one) of property owners vote no on the measure, then the assessment increase cannot be applied. ■