The City of Wildomar will once again be asking residents whether they are willing to pay an annual $28 special tax to pay for their parks – but this time around, things will be a little different: There will be no community facilities district or Mello Roos tax.
In a 4-0 vote Wednesday night, Wildomar City Council directed staff to pull the trigger and begin the process of putting together another parks initiative for the November ballot. It will ask voters whether they'll pay the special tax to fund maintenance of the city’s three parks: Marna O’Brien, Windsong and Heritage.
In a unanimous vote, council members rejected a resolution to form a community facilities district (CFD) to levy the annual $28 tax, and instead opted for a yearly parcel tax in the same amount.
To get the ball rolling, however, the city will first make sure voters want parks: It will invest up to $15,000 to pay a professional polling service to survey residents and find out what the level of support would be for a ballot initiative.
“Last time we flew blind … and we got 56 (percent),” Mayor Ben Benoit said.
Windsong and Heritage parks closed as a result.
There were no surveys conducted last time around, but this year, if poll results are favorable, the city will take steps to move forward.
Cost to Wildomar to get a measure on the November ballot is expected to be around $43,000, possibly more, not including the polling cost or an additional $10,000 proposed for voter information and education outreach, according to Assistant City Manager Gary Nordquist.
Already, the proposal has cost the city $13,000 in legal and associated fees.
In addition to polling residents, the city is proposing to put a $28 parcel tax to the voters instead of the CFD tax.
“It’s still a special tax,” argued Councilwoman Marcia Swanson, a critic of the
“They are like dirty words,” she said of Mello Roos. “It scared every one of you.”
Several in the audience of approximately 50 people gave public comment Wednesday night, and many said they would prefer a parcel tax over a CFD.
Wildomar resident Gil Rasmussen was a Measure D opponent. He told council members Wednesday that he could get behind a 2012 ballot measure if it were in the form of a parcel tax. However, he have criticized the city's willingness to spend money on an initiative that closely parallels a measure that voters turned down just last year.
According to Nordquist, under the parcel tax structure Wildomar property owners would be taxed annually $28 per parcel, regardless of how many dwellings were on a property.
Under a CFD, Wildomar property owners would be required to pay the annual $28 tax per unit or dwelling.
Using the parcel tax model compared to a CFD, Nordquist said the city would see approximately $20,000 less per year in revenues based on current build out. The parcel tax would generate in the ballpark of $330,000, which is still greater than the approximately $225,000 needed to fund parks’ maintenance, Nordquist said.
Another difference with this year’s proposal compared to Measure D is the annual tax rate would remain steady at $28 and not fluctuate based on the consumer price index, according to Nordquist.
For the nearly 20 people who gave public comment Wednesday night, the majority said they wanted to keep the parks open and they urged the city to make it happen.
“I don’t care (how),” said Wildomar resident Ray Addington. “Please find a way to fund our parks.”
Councilman Bob Cashman was absent Wednesday night.