Carlsbad tax assessments not expected to increase

CARLSBAD — City Council members moved to provide the levy necessary for Carlsbad’s annual tax assessment for street lighting and landscaping improvements at their June 22 meeting.
According to the city staff report, the approved levy will be contributed by the city’s funds and is not expected to increase annual assessment prices for homeowners.
The annual tax assessment is the main source of funding for street lighting, tree maintenance and median landscaping. However due to budget deficits, additional funds from the city have been requested to help “continue providing the same level of maintenance,” said Aaron Beanan of the city’s finance department.
The city is expected to give $176,000 to the street lighting fund as both a general benefit and public parcels contribution from the general fund.
An additional $250,000 for the continuance of median landscaping work is up for consideration in the city’s operating budget for fiscal year 2010-2011. If approved, this will bring the total amount loaned from the general fund for maintenance work up to $1.65 million, Beanan said.
In the past, improvements have relied on accumulated fund balances and general fund loans when the budget fell short. Beanan noted that there are no longer sufficient funds to cover the cost of maintenance work, which is why the city has been asked to contribute.
Street lighting improvement work focuses on maintenance and service of approximately 7,100 streetlights in Carlsbad. Nearly 11,000 trees in public rights of way and 65 acres of landscaping in city medians will also be cared for under these improvements.
With the predicted city contributions to improvements, annual tax assessments for homeowners are expected to stay at the current $70.44 in the upcoming fiscal year. That total breaks down into $26 for lighting improvements, $36.10 for tree maintenance and $8.34 for median landscaping.
“The assessment for an average single-family parcel which benefits from improvements has stayed the same for the past 14 fiscal years,” Beanan said in the presentation.
Beanan also presented the annual engineer’s report for Carlsbad’s lighting and landscaping district two, which requires new developments to pay the cost for streetlights and tree maintenance.
The district has been in place since 2003 and includes 11 zones representing newer developments, including Bressi Ranch and La Costa Greens. Assessment rates in these developments vary based on the cost of that specific area.
The report stated that the city has yet to acquire the full maintenance costs for these areas because several are still being developed, while homeowners in others have shouldered the maintenance responsibility.

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