Carmichael parks district proposes property assessment to replace lost funds, fix facilities

Published: Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 - 12:00 am

Having lost a sizable chunk of its revenue during the recession, the Carmichael Recreation and Park District is asking property owners to stabilize its income through an annual assessment of $45.

Like many capital-area suburbs, the community of 62,000 people relies on a special district to build and maintain its parks. And like other area park districts, the one in Carmichael is finding that revenue based largely on property taxes isn’t enough to meet the community’s needs.

“Things have gotten pretty worn down,” said district administrator Tarry Smith. “We are trying to improve the quality of life in Carmichael.”

From fiscal 2008-09 through 2013-14, district revenue declined by 18 percent, down to $4 million. That’s because the district’s fortunes are tied to the success or failure of the housing market, Smith said.

The proposed assessment will raise about $645,000 a year, or about the same amount of revenue the district has been losing each year.

The district plans to use the additional money to add features to parks, improve maintenance and hire a security guard to patrol the district’s 12 parks. About $200,000 a year would go to security and maintenance, while $445,000 would pay for capital projects, such as a covered event space at Carmichael Park and renovation of the park’s Community Clubhouse.

The district, which has had problems with drug dealing and other crimes, plans to contract with a nearby parks district to provide a security patrol, Smith said.

Ballots were mailed to property owners last month and must be returned by April 17 in an election required by state law. The ballots are weighted by the amount of property owned, and the proposal needs 50 percent plus one vote for passage. The assessment has no sunset clause.

A survey conducted for the district last year found that the proposal may have a tough time getting passed, as 49.5 percent indicated they would approve it. The $45 proposed assessment would apply to the owner of a single-family home.

Some regular park visitors say they support the proposed assessment.

“The parks in Carmichael are getting old and worn out and they need to be improved,” said Alice Agness.

Agness and her daughter often visit the farmers market in Carmichael Park, the district’s largest park, on Grant Avenue. She said the irregular surface of the parking lot causes problems as she tries to get around with her walker.

The district plans to make a number of improvements to Carmichael Park, including to its parking lot and its covered band shell, which hosts a summer concert series.

The district also plans to add air conditioning and new floors to the gyms at La Sierra Community Center. Afternoon activity is limited in the gyms because of the heat, said Jessica DeGroot, a sports coordinator for the district.

“It gets pretty brutal in the early evening,” she said.

Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee.

Read more articles by Brad Branan

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