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Wildomar Parks Measure Headed To Voters June 7; Bond Issue And Senior Exemption Dropped

The parks measure will not include a $5 million bond issue to build a new park east of the 15 Freeway. A senior tax exemption was also cut.

On June 7, Wildomar residents will have the opportunity to vote on whether they want to incur a special tax to keep their city parks open. But voters won’t be asked to decide the fate of new park construction.

During Monday night’s Wildomar City Council meeting, members unanimously voted to approve resolutions that pave the way for a June special municipal election and a ballot measure aimed at funding city parks.

The measure will, if passed by city residents June 7, see the formation of a Community Facilities District and an annual base tax of $28 imposed on Wildomar property owners to pay for maintenance of the city’s three existing parks.

With the resolutions, council members dropped the idea of putting forth a ballot measure that, in addition to the $28 annual base tax, would have also asked voters whether the city should incur $5 million in debt via bonds. The money would have been used to construct a new city park east of the 15 Freeway. Under such a plan, residents would have paid back the debt at an additional annual base tax rate of $17.

“I’m not in favor of a bond,” Councilman Tim Walker said, adding that he felt the measure stood a better chance of voter approval without the bond issue.

“I think the voters will be hard pressed to vote for the bond issue,” Councilman Ben Benoit said.

Council members also came to consensus and voted to adopt resolutions that stripped a senior tax exemption out of the measure.

All council members expressed their disappointment at removing the senior exemption, but said they were willing to make the concession to avoid possible legal action from some in the community who say such an exemption favors a particular group of people.

“I think this is a sad day,” Mayor Marsha Swanson said of removing the senior tax exemption. “I’m a fighter, but I’d rather take it out (the exemption) than fight a legal battle.”

Councilwoman Bridgette Moore has been an outspoken parks’ advocate for many years, and her disappointment in the concessions was noted Monday night.

"I don't like it and it's not what I want," she said, but affirmed her support for the measure moving forward.

“We have to have a united front,” she said to City Council and community supporters, adding that it will take significant campaigning to ensure the measure gets the two-thirds majority it needs to pass in June.

Martha L. Bridges March 08, 2011 at 05:30 PM
The Wildomar council has known for some time that the senior exemption was likely illegal, and removed it only after receiving protest letters that would have allowed for legal action if the clause was not stricken. Wildomar's voters are still faced is an unnecessarily complex Mello-Roos based tax and CFD with all their risks and costly administrative overhead. They should read the wording of the resolution carefully, and understand the risks of Mello-Roos before voting. This tax, with its yearly escalation clause, will go on forever if approved by the voters. The council talks in terms of $28 as a gimmick, but taxpayers should know that adds up to $360,000 or more each year in new taxes.
Elaine Greene March 08, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Martha, you are the one that stated that you would file if the seniors were exempt! You have taken legal actions in communities such as Banning and Wildomar and that is how you make your money!
Martha L. Bridges March 08, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Elaine, You seem to think there is something wrong with defending my rights and asking our elected officials to respect the law. I work hard at doing both those things. Its my contribution to my community. The laws are on the books for good reasons; they are for the protection of society and the environment. They are intend to be used when needed, and there is no shame in standing up for what is right. As to making money, that's laughable! If you know anything about the cost of attorneys and court fees, you would understand I'm not making a penny.
J Carabine March 12, 2011 at 04:53 PM
"There is waste to be trimmed, non-essentials to eliminate, and money that can be found to keep our parks out." This is a true statement, every government has it's issues regarding monies spent and wasted. I do not think most " politicians" are necessarily good business people with financial experience they are often passionate people who want to help change the world starting in their own community. We need strong leadership and people who "can trim the fat" - as there is a lot of it. I also want the parks open rather than having an empty field again with knee high grass, graffiti and and looking bad.
Martha L. Bridges March 12, 2011 at 05:37 PM
When does "Educational Information" = "Political Propaganda" = skirting the election laws; when the Wildomar council members and city staff actively use their real and implied official status to put on this event in the park, and support the rally that will follow. Expect to see a circus-like atmosphere as our elected council members beat the drum for new, unnecessary taxes; followed directly by a city supported rally where you are threatened one more time with the closing of our parks if you don’t dig in your pockets for the ransom money. The parks could and should remain open. We don’t need a risky Mello-Roos based Community Facilities District with new taxes. We need a council and finance director that is willing to sit down and make an honest effort to balance the city’s budget. There is waste to be trimmed, non-essentials to eliminate, and money that can be found to keep our parks open.
Murrieta Momma March 27, 2011 at 02:37 PM
It is my understanding that the tax has a cap of $28.00. The is is for each property owner, only .08 cents per day correct? Won't this increase our property value and give the kids recreational activities at the park? That is my understanding folks. I also believe that there is only one person on the payroll for the parks and Paula Willette is active in every part of Community Service in the city,not just the parks. I know that the $$ annually seems alot but NO ONE is making money here. Look it up - all city records are open and available for the public. I'm just a concerned mom who would like to have the opportunity to make the community a place for the entire family to play and call home.
Murrieta Momma March 27, 2011 at 02:40 PM
oops . .. the second sentence should say: The TAX is for . . .
Dana DeJong April 01, 2011 at 11:21 PM
We need our parks. If the parks are closed they will look horrible and property values will go down. We have a beautiful park lets keep it. Have you driven by there any day of the week and seen the people using the park. People of all ages even senior citizens. It's great. Where will all these people go if the park is shut down. Give me a break it's only 28$ a year. Find a cause that's really worth fighting for. Our kids need parks we have nothing as it is to do.
J Carabine April 02, 2011 at 02:58 AM
Agreed :):) as some one already said 8 cents a day !!! :) The parks are being used ;)>> as evidenced by these photos. Would you rather see them empty and chained up?
Martha L. Bridges April 10, 2011 at 09:09 PM
No, I did NOT make any such statement. Get your facts straight rather than making them up. What I did was submit the appropriate comment letter to the city council raising my concerns about the legality of the senior exemption - in a polite and professional manner. That's a matter of public record if you would like to check. It is the council and the city attorney who met in closed session and decided that the senior exemption was, as I suggested, questionably illegal. And, it was the council who decided to withdraw both the senior exemption and the proposed bond measure.
Martha L. Bridges April 10, 2011 at 09:23 PM
If the parks are important, which I believe they are, and if the parks convey a general benefit to the community, which is questionable; then they should be paid for from the general fund budget. The council wants to not only impose a new tax on the citizens to replace the lost assessment funds, but they also want toever so quietly shift the costs of recreation and entertainment programs out of the general fund budget (where they have always been) and pay for them with the new tax. This make it a double tax. Furthermore, the recreational and entertainment programs serve only a very, very small percentage of the population. Why is the whole population, both residential and business property owners, being asked to pay for programs they don't use and probably can't afford to pay twice for? Stop all the overly emotional retoric and think about it. Most importantly, why would you vote for a MELLO-ROOS based tax when a simple, straightforward Special Parcel Tax is available under Prop13. The council wanted the MELLO-ROOS district created to make it easier to bring forward a multi-million dollar bond issue.

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