Maxwell Recreation board to move forward with tax measure

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The Maxwell Park and Recreation District Board of Directors are renewing efforts to put a tax measure before property owners in early 2020 in order to avoid eventual insolvency.

The board is looking to use MK Election Services, of Merced, to oversee the Proposition 218 process, although they have not yet signed a formal contract.

The district is proposing the ballot measure in an effort to raise the annual assessment – set at $15 per parcel in 1986 – to $64.50 for all parcels with a dwelling located in Maxwell; 30 cents per acre fee for property without a dwelling of 43 acres or more; and $12.90 per year for parcels without a dwelling less than 43 acres.

But even those figures aren’t set in stone.

MPR President Kyle Miller said that while most residents are aware the district is unsustainable at the current assessment, which provides $13,015 in annual revenue, Maxwell property owners have given little input at their public meetings on what amount they would find palatable.

The board selected $64.50 (and the per-acre fee) based on what an annual Consumer Price Index increase might have looked like if the 1986 board had implemented an annual increase when the fee was first assessed.

However, Miller said property owner might see a $50 per year increase as too high.
“I don’t know if it would pass,” he 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 heavily on donations and fundraising to help offset an operating loss of about $30,000 a year. The board’s capital improvement plan, which they adopted in 2018, also envisions a small town park on existing land ($51,000) and pool improvements, including a new filtering system, structural repairs, and ADA compliant restrooms ($100,000).

California Engineering Co., which also completed the Prop 218 Engineer’s report, in March, also advised the district to complete an income survey ($20,000), in order for the district to be eligible for low-or-no-interest funding from state bonds.

Miller said prior to the board undertaking the Proposition 218 election, which will cost about $7,200, the board would probably take a second look at the proposed fee.

“I think maybe we should scale it back,” he said.

The Proposition 218 process will consist of a mail-only ballot to owners of real property located within the district boundaries, possibly as early as January 2020.

The ballots, one per each parcel, would be out for at least 45 days, Miller said.

The board will also conduct one public hearing before the ballots are issued, and one (protest hearing) on Election Day to count the responses.

If the majority (50 percent plus one) of property owners vote against the measure, then the assessment increase cannot be applied.

“The only votes that count are the no votes,” Miller said.

There are approximately 1,100 parcels in the MPR District. Because many parcels are owned by the same individual(s), property owners with multiple parcels will receive multiple ballots, Miller said. ■