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.