East of Highway 99 Property Owners to Decide Park Maintenance Fees

Press release from Cosumnes Community Services District Elk Grove, Calif. – Dramatically increasing water rates, utility bills and other cos...

Press release from Cosumnes Community Services District

Elk Grove, Calif. – Dramatically increasing water rates, utility bills and other costs make it necessary for the Cosumnes Community Services District to seek property
owner approval for new maintenance assessments equaling about $7 to $11 a month in areas of Elk Grove east of Highway 99.

The new assessments would allow the CSD to continue performing maintenance work – including watering and landscaping – at current standards in the areas. It also would
provide funds for replacing aging play structures and other facilities in older parks.

The CSD Board of Directors voted Wednesday to seek the approval of property owners
for the new assessments. The mail-in balloting procedure will take place over a 45-day period beginning May 1.

Under state law, the CSD has designated 13 benefit zones throughout Elk Grove in which maintenance assessments – called Landscape and Lighting Fees or L&Ls – are
collected exclusively for maintaining parks and playgrounds, landscaped roadside
corridors and some street medians within those zones. While most CSD benefit zones
are financially stable, funds cannot be transferred from one zone to another. The CSD also maintains a General Fund, which supports general operations of the CSD’s Fire Department, Parks and Recreation Department and Administrative Services Department.

Most of the cost of park maintenance is for landscape services and water, and water
rates are rising sharply. In some areas east of Highway 99, water rates have increased by more than 300 percent in the last few years and are expected to keep increasing.

Current L&L rates have been unable to keep pace with the increases. The CSD has been keeping district residents apprised of the situation for the past year, advising them that at some point it would be necessary to either reduce services or seek additional assessments. The CSD Board voted Wednesday to put the assessment question to a vote of property owners.

State law requires that new L&L assessments be approved by a simple majority of
property owners in a mail-in balloting procedure. The new assessments would take
effect July 1, 2009. If property owners do not approve the L&L increases in a given
zone, the CSD will need to reduce its costs in that zone to address the financial
shortfall. That could mean sharp reductions in watering and landscape maintenance in
some parks, corridors or medians in order to save enough money.

There are three proposed new assessment zones east of Highway 99:
• Property owners in the northern most new zone, the Elk Grove West Vineyard
area, will be asked to approve a new assessment of about $8 a month. (The
assessment will be displayed on the annual property tax bill in the amount of
• Property owners in the central zone, the Camden area, will be asked to approve
a new assessment of about $10 a month ($119 a year).
• Property owners in the southern most zone, which includes Central Elk Grove,
Fallbrook and Park Village, will be asked to pay about $7 a month ($79 a year).
The vote marks just the third time in its 23-year history that the CSD has asked property owners to increase their L&L assessments. The first occurred in the Lakeside area of Laguna West in 2003. It was approved by more than 70 percent of property owners.

Another L&L balloting procedure is taking place later this month in the Vista Creek
Village neighborhood of Elk Grove. A group of residents from that neighborhood
approached the CSD late last year and asked for the balloting procedure in order to
provide sufficient maintenance funds for a new park, Vista Creek Park.

The CSD operates under a state law established by Proposition 218, approved by
California voters in 1996. The law requires property owner approval for increases in L&L rates except for annual increases tied to the cost of living.

After the passage of Proposition 218, special districts like the CSD were required to put their current L&L assessment rates to a reaffirmation vote of district property owners. In the 1997 balloting, the CSD’s assessment rates were approved by 85 percent of Elk Grove property owners casting ballots.

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