Carmichael property owners approve annual assessment

Published: Thursday, May. 15, 2014 - 8:35 pm

By a narrow margin, Carmichael property owners approved an annual assessment to maintain and provide protection at parks, officials announced Thursday evening.

The vote, which was weighted by the amount of property owned, was 51 percent in favor of the assessment. The assessment will go into effect starting July 1 and varies by property – $45 a year for a single-family home, and more than $1,000 a year for some businesses.

The vote was conducted by mail ballot, and property owners were given 45 days to respond. Less than 30 percent of the 14,000 property owners in the district responded.

At a meeting Thursday, the Carmichael Recreation and Park District board unanimously voted to accept the results, despite the threat of a lawsuit from a watchdog group. An attorney representing the Sacramento Taxpayers Association sent a letter to the district last week saying the assessment failed to meet the requirements of state law and proceeds could easily be eaten up in legal fees defending it.

Association President Ken Payne reiterated the group’s concerns to the district board Thursday and said the assessment is illegal.

But an attorney from the Sacramento County counsel’s office, representing the district, told the board that she had reviewed the steps taken to approve the assessment and found that it was proper.

The district hired an independent engineer who conducted an analysis of how the district’s needs would provide specific as opposed to general benefits. Such an analysis is needed to meet the state law governing assessments, or the district would have to get a two-thirds vote of the electorate to approve a tax.

The attorney representing the taxpayers association said the engineer’s report is flawed and cited an analysis from the Legislative Analyst’s Office that found parks were not eligible for the special assessments.

Most of the speakers at Thursday’s meeting strongly supported the assessment, saying funds are needed to improve the community’s deteriorating parks.

Former Sacramento City Councilman Rob Kerth urged the board to support the assessment. He said withdrawn investment in facilities in North Sacramento, after it became part of the city, led to the area’s demise.

“This is probably the most important decision you will ever make,” he said.

District officials said the assessment is needed to offset revenue lost during the recession. It will raise about $645,000 a year.

It will add features, improve maintenance and pay for a security guard to patrol the parks.

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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