City to re-ballot for Landscape and Lighting District
Affected property owners will have the chance to weigh-in at future meetings
To make up for some Paso Robles Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District sub-areas that are underfunded, city staff has proposed re-balloting the affected property owners. At its last meeting, the city council approved the item 5-0. The council asked that an analysis of Zone 4 — Riverbank — be addressed first. At the March 27 council meeting, the council will assign two members to an ad hoc committee to work with staff and residents of Zone 4.
The council formed the El Paso de Robles Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District No. 1 in 1989 to fund ongoing maintenance and operation of landscape and lighting improvements associated with developments. Since that time, the district has grown to 142 designated landscape and lighting sub-areas. The approximate 3,970 parcels within the district generate a total of $1.54 million each year. According to the staff report by Interim Public Works Director Christine Halley, the assessments are as low as $11 per unit to more than $7,000 per unit. The report said that insufficient revenue assessments have prevented full service landscape maintenance in many of the sub-areas, while at the same time other areas have a higher level of maintenance.
The last time the city re-balloted affected property owners was in 2006, when some sub-areas did not approve an increase in assessment. Halley wrote in the staff report that because the council recognized that service has dwindled in some sub-areas while maintenance costs have risen with inflation, it awarded a contract to Willdan Financial Services on Aug. 19, 2014, to evaluate sub-areas where re-balloting may be warranted. As of the meeting on March 3, Willdan was underway with updating the extensive parcel database and improvement diagrams, but has yet to issues its findings or to begin public outreach. Paso Robles Public Works Maintenance Services Superintendent Freda Berman said Tuesday that the company is continuing to analyze the district as a whole and will make recommendations as to its structure and recommend assessments. At that time, Berman said staff will determine which zones will need to be re-balloted. Because the zones have not yet been identified, public meetings have not yet been set.
Improvements that can be made to the sub-areas in the district include:
- The installation or planting of landscaping.
- The installation or construction of statuary, fountains, and other ornamental structures and facilities.
- The installation or construction of public lighting facilities.
- The installation or construction of any facilities which are appurtenant to any of the foregoing or which are necessary or convenient for the maintenance or servicing thereof, including, but not limited to, grading, clearing, removal of debris, the installation or construction of curbs, gutters, walls, sidewalks, or paving, or water, irrigation, drainage, or electrical facilities.
- The maintenance or servicing, or both, of any of the foregoing.
- The acquisition of any existing improvement otherwise authorized pursuant to this section.
Expenses associated with the improvements include, but are not limited to:
- The cost of preparation of the report, including plans, specifications, estimates, diagram, and assessment
- The costs of printing, advertising, and the publishing, posting and mailing of notices Compensation payable to the county for collection of assessments
- Compensation of any engineer or attorney employed to render services
- Any other expenses incidental to the construction, installation, or maintenance and servicing of the improvements
- Any expenses incidental to the issuance of bonds or notes
- Costs associated with any elections held for the approval of a new or increased assessment
According to the staff report, the 1972 Act defines “maintain” or “maintenance” to mean furnishing of services and materials for the ordinary and usual maintenance, operation and servicing of any improvement, which include:
- Repair, removal, or replacement of all or any part of any improvement.
- Providing for the life, growth, health, and beauty of landscaping, including cultivation, irrigation, trimming, spraying, fertilizing, or treating for disease or injury.
- The removal of trimmings, rubbish, debris, and other solid waste.
- The cleaning, sandblasting, and painting of walls and other improvements to remove or cover graffiti.
In order to reassess assessments for fiscal year 2015-16, public hearings would have to be held in April and May. According to Berman, the extent of public outreach included in Willdan’s contract is mailing one informational piece/meeting invitation and attending one community workshop. The company’s day rate for attending public meetings is $2,010, including travel. In the proposal by Willdan, the company said it would assist in multiple meetings on the same day for the same cost.
- Re-balloting effort funding approved August 2014 $68,875
- Authorized Contingency August 2014 $8,000
- Willdan Amendment No. 1 proposed additional fee $22,000
- Support budget for public outreach $35,000
- Total re-balloting budget $133,875
- Requested additional authorization $57,000
Berman said that there is approximately $768,800 in cash reserves in the Landscape and Lighting Fund as of the beginning of the current fiscal year. She said that the reserves are available for such a use. To see the entire staff report, go to the city’s webpage.
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