S.A.D. Update May, 2017
After two long years of research, studying the ordinance and meeting with City authorities, budgeting and polling our neighborhood the Special Assessment District Exploratory Committee is ready to roll out the proposed assessment, budget and management plans. We have two community meetings scheduled for this month. One is May 4th (this Thursday) and the other is May 18th at Palmer Park Preparatory Academy on Margareta. These have been posted on Nextdoor, Facebook and at UDCA.info.
At these meetings we hope to have the petition forms available for residents to make their “vote”. There has been some delay getting these from the City. I say vote in quotes because the process is a little different. Instead of voting yes or no a parcel owner either signs their name on a line on the petition corresponding to their address to say “yes we would like the assessment” or if the owners don’t want the assessment they can leave their line blank or draw a line through the signature space. We are circulating the petitions through the summer with a goal of having reached as many residents as possible before the beginning of August. This is only a petition. All the petitions really are is our community asking the City Council to establish a SAD for our neighborhood. They have the ultimate say.
What we will be presenting at these two meetings includes how we plan to use the assessment funds, the assessment amount and how we plan to manage the funds. After some budget crafting and exploring bids from service providers we worked up a budget proposal including the three services allowed by the SAD ordinance. These services are limited to security, snow plowing/management and mosquito habitat abatement. Our budget will let us expand the current private security to twenty four hour coverage seven days a week. Presently the security program is voluntary, cost two hundred sixty dollars a year and only about 22% of the neighborhood contributes even though we all benefit from lower crime. Under the Assessment all parcel owners will pay the same amount and reap much more service. Next up in the budget is snow plowing. Currently the UDCA funds snow removal from dues collected from it’s members. About half the residents are members and UDCA plows snow only when it exceeds four inches. Intersections are salted as needed. Often I hear our members and neighbors comment that our snow management is inadequate which may be true. Under the SAD we will have double the funds available and can salt and plow much more liberally. Lastly we explored mosquito abatement and found we can do this for less than fifteen hundred dollars a year. It is important to know that we have no intention of spraying for mosquitos and our approach is to eliminate their breeding habitats. i.e. remove over grown foliage, eliminate or treat standing water etc.
We can do this for an assessment of $175. That’s really pretty good compared to the surrounding communities which assess from $250 to 450. When we came up with the $175 figure we had to consider how many of our residents are completely compliant with property taxes which dictates how many parcels we will collect from. For the University District the tax compliance rate is 78% and we have 1280 parcels, some of which are tax exempts. The city takes a 1% collection fee and we have to include expenses like sending out an annual financial report, maintaining separate bank accounts from the UDCA and other administrative expenses.
The operational plan which spells out who is on the committee and how it is run is very specific that we will not co-mingle funds with the UDCA. Keeping the operations and management of funds separate includes electing a committee chair from the committee, representation from the paid subscriber patrol and the volunteer radio patrol as well as the UDCA board. Presently we include one Resident at Large. If there is a shortfall of committee members from any of these three organizations more Residents-at-Large will be included. We will also have a separate mail box and the UDCA President is not automatically the committee chair.
If our petition shows a majority support for establishing the $175 assessment and the City Council approves it the assessment will be included on your summer tax bill just like the solid waste assessment. The summer bill can be paid in halves or all at once. If established, the assessment lasts for 7 years and then we start the petition process over. Should we move forward and be approved the residents also have the same process to repeal the assessment during those 7 years.
I know there are a lot of questions out there and I can’t answer them all here, however, I do have a FAQ sheet (updated) which will be distributed at these meetings. It is also important to know that the city and county have programs for people who are having difficulty paying their property taxes. Information about these programs can be found on their respective websites. If this concern applies to you feel free to e-mail me and I will help direct you to the right people. Hopefully we will see a lot of neighbors at the two meetings mentioned above and be able to represent the desire of the community. It is your choice to support the Special Assessment or continue as we are.
Thomas Bauer, UDCA Secretary and SAD Committee Chairperson