The Carmichael Recreation and Park District faces possible legal action if its proposed assessment on property owners moves forward Thursday.
The Sacramento Taxpayers Association, which successfully persuaded the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District to drop its proposed charge this year, is making a similar legal argument against the one under consideration in Carmichael, which would bill the average homeowner $45 a year.
In a letter sent to the park district last week, a San Diego attorney representing the taxpayer group said the proposal fails to meet the requirements of a 1996 voter-approved state law governing rate increases.
District officials believe they only need majority support among property owners through mail ballots they plan to tally later this week. Under state law, districts can use that process if they seek a special assessment that provides specific benefits to parcels.
However, the benefits proposed under the Carmichael increase are general in nature because they benefit all residents through park operations and improvements, attorney Vincent D. Slavens wrote in his letter. To raise taxes for general benefits, special districts must hold a vote of the entire electorate and receive two-thirds support.
District administrator Tarry Smith said the decision to proceed with the election was based on an independent engineer’s report. He said other park districts have used the same process to raise revenue.
The district board will receive the results of the election at 6 p.m. today. If the measure passes, the board will have to decide how to respond to the taxpayers association’s complaint, Smith said.
The association made a similar challenge of a rate increase proposed this year by Metro Fire to improve response times and shore up its budget. Fire Chief Kurt Henke cited the challenge as a reason for abandoning the proposal.