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Wildomar Aims To Open Parks Without 'Mello Roos' Tax

The city is moving forward on a November ballot initiative.

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.

Thomas Blair June 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM
@Ms. Deskin - I don't live in Wildomar (though I am near the border) and it isn't my place to speak for others but it seems, in my opinion, that they are doing exactly what you are yelling at them about. They don't want to spend their money on things they have no investment in. You are yelling at them to spend money on something they have no investment in while they are complaining that they do not want to invest their money in that very thing. You are making absolutely no sense. I don't have children and other than occasionally riding my bike past Windsong or Marna O'Brian park I will never utilize them. Were I to live in Wildomar I might argue against being forced to fund the parks. Ironically, your rant about "liberals" also makes zero sense since it is the sterotypical conservative philosophy which refuses to invest in community programs. The parks you are trying to save are a socialist program when and if the city actually funds them. You, the implied conservative, are advocating FORCING everyone to participate in funding the parks... that is socialism... the current system of volunteering to keep them up, is a free-market solution. "Liberals" are in favor of using public money for the public good. Regarding the parks... you are a liberal.
Thomas Blair June 28, 2012 at 11:12 PM
PS Regarding the walking on water/feeding everyone thing... Jesus was a liberal. "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you...” Luke 14:12-14 "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'" Matthew 19:21
Andrew Burns June 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I'm voting for it. I want the parks open.
Martha L. Bridges June 29, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Long term financial viability demands that the council make changes, in some cases drastic changes. It was truly foolhearty to assume that Wildomar could have everything in place from day one when it took years for our neighboring cities to build what they have today. The people suggesting these changes have Wildomar's fiscal viability in mind - they are trying to help before the city goes the way of the City of Bell or the City of Stockton. It is people like you and the council that want to label that as complaining.
Andria June 29, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I live in the Farm and don't even really use the parks. But I realize how important decent parks are for cities. When my family was young, we utilized the parks of the city we then lived in. I would like the youth of our community now to enjoy those same benefits and will gladly pay the $28, campaign for parks, and knock on doors, if need be, to help educate the community about the parks tax, and try to get them reopened. Regarding our city council and mayor. I've only been to a few of the meetings. But of the ones I've attended, I've been impressed with their attentiveness and consideration of public comments, and with how they collaborate and work together after the public comments to try to make the best decisions possible. It's my opinion that they work hard for this city and try to consider all the sides of some very complicsted issues. I greatly appreciate them.
Ken Mayes June 29, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Gil Though I may not agree with Bridgette on some things I give her exalted praise for her passion to the City of Wildomar, the girl never seems to sleep she is involved in every aspect of this city heart and soul. Its the other four I am concerned about, Bob Cashman seems to have lost the fire and the others I just don't trust.
lisa hernandez June 29, 2012 at 05:04 AM
@Martha: Don't be so condescending. I did'nt personally attack you. I stated a fact. You have sued cities, colleges, people, and other entities. You have no desire to help your community, if you had you would not have sued the city and spent our tax dollars. Personal attacks is what cowards do in order to keep others from speaking up. You ran twice for city council, and both times you lost with the least amount of votes. Hello Martha people have your number. There is no love for our community, people that love something, don't try to destroy it. You are arrogant, narcissistic, and your hubris abounds. You drew first blood!
michael June 29, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Hahahahahahhaha. this is so ridiculous. "The patch" was intended to be a place to get the news and see what's going on in our community, yet everyone uses it as a tool to yell at evryone else and shove their opinions down others throats. And I'm included in that. @martha- I understand your concerns about everyone getting "their fair share" of the park and all, I can also understand why you think the park is dominated by the sports leagues, but you're wrong. The park is not dominated by sports leagues in reality the park is used far more by everyday users, those not in sports leagues. I have personally seen this over and over again. Those of us who take care of the park truelly know who uses the park. Also this has to do with whether or not our citizens are willing to pay 28 dollars a year to fund three parks, and only that. This has nothing to do with the jpa, or city hall, or city managers, or libraries, or emt's, or firefighters! If this gets passed that does not automatically mean they will come up with a bunch of other taxes!!! Point blank, stop acting like children and bashing eachother and the city council over patch, you sound like little teenage girls on facebook, everyone is an adult why not sit down and talk about it in a cival manner. take it for face value whether you are willing to pay 28 dollars a year which benifits our entire community, if you had concerns you should have been at the meeting, or you can come to the jully 11th council meeting.
michael June 29, 2012 at 06:16 AM
#haha #not trying to attack anyone #told #parks, parks, parks #:p
Ken Mayes June 29, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Lisa and Michelle Seems like old times. When the truth starts to turn opinion away from those that want they start with the name calling, like a bunch of children
Martha L. Bridges June 29, 2012 at 07:16 AM
It is childish to say it is only about $28.00 per year and that it doesn't relate to other issues. You cannot isolate the subject from these other considerations. One of the problems is that the city repeatedly fails to look at the big picture and doesn't do long term planning when making decisions. It is also childish to open comments with Hahahahahahhaha and expect that your statements will be taken seriously.
Foe June 29, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I am voting no on any new taxes for the following reasons. I believe that the parks should be paid for and kept open with taxes already collected and properties that benefit from parks should pay their fair share.
Martha L. Bridges June 29, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Lisa, dear, I would have to be on the ballot for you to be able to vote for me! Threatening to withhold your vote is so foolish. Get a grip on reality. People can love Wildomar yet hate what incorporation and the present set of elected officials have done to our once peaceful community. Good people should be able to bring attention to things that are wrong without having to be subjected to accusations of being hateful. People make a community, not parks.
Martha L. Bridges June 29, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Lisa, Michelle and others. There are a lot of false assumptions being broadcast here, and many bogus statements being made as though they are facts. It appears that some people are willing to be deceitful in order to make their point. The comments on this article have now deteriorated into trading nasty grams and a bunch of childish naming calling and personal attacks. No point in trying to have an intelligent exchange when people aren't willing to stay on subject, and resort to just making stuff up.
lisa hernandez June 29, 2012 at 04:39 PM
@Martha: Which part is deceitful? That you lost twice? That you had the lowest amount of votes in both elections? That you sued the above entities? That if you loved your community you wouldn't have been trying to destroy it? That you started out by being condescending? Or is it that (arrogant, narcissistic, and your hubris abounds)?
Andria June 29, 2012 at 05:34 PM
In doing some research on this topic, I learned that in most communities the parks are paid for out of a special tax. According to a national Penn State University study, the average tax to fund local parks and rec services across the U.S. is around $70/yr. We're being asked to simply reinstate the $28 tax that we had already been paying. In my opinion, we can't have the benefits of Prop 13 for lower property taxes AND have all the perks, too. Regarding your other comment, people that don't use parks, hiking trails, etc., in a city receive an indirect benefit from them. When people are choosing whether to purchase a home in a city, they look for affordable places with low crime rates, good schools, and good parks and rec services. These are the signs of city with health and vitality. When businesses are choosing cities to set up shop, they look for cities with people living there. There are other benefits to a community having decent parks which include a place for families and youth to play, picnic, and enjoy activites; a place for the community to come together, a place for businesses to hold larger events or to market themselves at community events. There is a correlation between lower crime rates and excellent park and rec services because the youth of the city have more opportunity to be engaged in positive activites. The list goes on and on. As a property owner in Wildomar, these benefits are worth $2.33 per month, less than the cost of one Starbucks.
Ken Mayes June 29, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Andria Your study tells one story and another study tells us something entirely different. It largely depends on the answer you are looking for. Here is a link for a University of California at Berkeley Study about funding for Local Parks in Southern California completed in July of 2011 (http://www.activelivingresearch.org/files/PolicyBrief_ParkFundingDisparities.pdf ) which shows that special districts account for only 7% of park funding , non-profits account for 10%, municipal funding accounts for 74% with federal, state and county making up the difference. The per capita spending ranges from $5 to $21 annually. The city of Wildomar has in its priorities chosen to contribute nothing towards park funding. Even their Quimby Fees collected from developers to pay for land acquisition is half what every other city around here charges.
Ken Mayes June 29, 2012 at 07:05 PM
To the Friends of Wildomar Parks Apparently the federal government has 70 million dollars available for parks and park programs. See http://www.cityparksalliance.org/ this money is available to non-profit organizations as well as cities.
Robert Lougee June 29, 2012 at 07:20 PM
They can taint the results of a phone poll. What will that get them? A ballot initiative. They cannot skew a ballot initiative. Is it unfortunate they can spend thousands of dollars indiscriminately just by a simple vote of the council? Considering the size of our budget, we need to cap the discretionary spending allowed by council vote. Clearly we need to make significant changes to the City Council. Our elected officials still largely consist of the pro incorporation regime. In their minds they are the only logical choice for the council seats since they worked so hard to defeat all the annexation efforts no matter how reasonable they were and bullied anyone who didn't agree with them. It seems to me, there is a feeling of self entitlement among them. . Once the last of the inaugural council members goes away, then we can may have a chance at making good decisions for the city.
Robert Lougee June 29, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Michelle, There isn't much Martha Bridges says that I agree with, but this is one thing. I will not support the parks in Wildomar's current political and financial climate. There are too many special interests being served, like the recreational sports leagues. At one point my daughters travel softball team was able to reserve a single field at Marna O'Brien park. We also needed to purchase lighting usage. The fee schedule for lights was significantly higher for her team than it was for the recreational leagues, all because the CIty Council decided it should be and not because the cost to provide lights to this team was any higher. I am a resident of Wildomar, this makes me equally entitled to use the facilities and for the same cost as anyone else. If the recreational sports leagues want the park(s) to remain open then they should figure it out since they seem to derive the biggest benefit. If the preferential treatment were eliminated and we, as a community can ensure the parks can remain free of vandalism and a safe place to go through adequate police patrols etc., then I will not hesitate to vote yes for the parks. Will this happen by November? My guess is no. You are in no position to insult anyone who doesn't support your viewpoint. I won't give one penny of my money or one minute of my time to save the parks until drastic and sustainable changes are made.
Foe June 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Andrea The litmus test I use to determine whether my property benefits from any park is the time it takes my kids to get there walking and looked at meganslaw.com website to see if it is safe for that to happen. Within 6 minutes walking distance from Marna I noticed a dozen or more registered sex offenders or pedophiles. No way can I take a chance and let my kids walk there alone, if you feel you can trust your kids to walk to Marna then your property must benefit and therefore should pay your fair share. I have been to council meetings and never once did I see a resolution to fund any park regardless of economic conditions. What I did see is closures. I believe funding parks should be a top priority when spending money from the taxes already collected. I will be voting no new taxes.
michael June 29, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Thank you ken I will look into that. :) I am not doing battle with you again martha. You feed off of this stuff. So bye.
michael June 29, 2012 at 08:45 PM
@robert- how long ago did this lighting thing happen? And hust fyi, WLL hasn't used marna all season, neither has soccer, pop warner is the only league that has used the park, which two of their member are a part of our ffwp board, everyone else on the board have no ties to any sports leagues.
Andria June 29, 2012 at 08:48 PM
That's great information. Did you post that on the Friends of Parks facebook, or e-mail it to them? If not, I'll cut and paste your above weblink there. Yes, you're correct about "competing studies". But I stand by the benefits of parks to a community information, and at least for me, $2.33 is small price to pay. Thanks for that link.
michael June 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Oh and I appologize martha if you thought my entire comment was directed at you. The second part was directed toward everyone.
Robert Lougee June 30, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Michael, This lighting thing happened several years ago. For the record, I do not fault the recreational leagues for anything. In fact, WLL was very cooperative and worked with my daughters team quite a bit. My issue is solely with the way the City Council treats the Rec Leagues. Having been around organized youth sports for more than a decade, the one constant issue has always been finding enough field time. There simply isn't an abundance of facilities. When the recreational leagues are given first rite of refusal to all of the available facilities in the city and better rates for these amenities, conflict and bitterness are bound to ensue. I have seen other local cities give preference to the adult leagues. What I am saying is this is not an isolated issue. If there can't be equality then I will have to vote no for a park fee.
teenliberal7 July 01, 2012 at 07:28 AM
@Thomas Blair, could not have said it better myself!
Martha L. Bridges July 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM
What a pack of nonsensical statements. You simply don't know what you are talking about. I personally donated $130 to the parks fund, and while I don't volunteer for the parks, I do volunteer 20 to 30 hours per week to other worthy causes and organizations - I have given my time and support for volunteer efforts for the last 50 + years. How dare you criticize me or the other people you have named simply because YOU want us to support the parks? We all get to make a personal choice in these matters. It is not sinful to have concentrated on paying our bills on time, not having our homes foreclosed or that our cars are paid for...geez Michelle that's called good, old fashioned thrift and responsible financial behavior. The community, the county, the state and the whole country would all be in better shape if they had practiced more prudent financial management. What makes you and others feel entitled to tell anybody what they are obligated to volunteer for, supply or support? You are really out of line in saying such things. Volunteering by definition implys making a personal choice, and many people choose to give their time, effort and money to something else.
Martha L. Bridges July 03, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I'm not interested in doing "battle" with anyone. I am commenting to express my opinions and concerns. It's a shame that there are so many people wanting to hid behind their faceless keyboards and turn what should be an exchange of ideas into a battle.
Cat July 03, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I wonder Martha, is there a way that you can express your own opinions & ideas WITHOUT bringing other commenters names into it? Just wondering.........

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