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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.

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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