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Voters Will Elect a Supervisor, Rule on 4 Measures Tuesday

June 02, 1988

In addition to choosing a 1st District supervisor, voters in Somis, Camarillo, Moorpark and the Oxnard area will be asked Tuesday to make decisions on four local issues.

In Oxnard, the five commissioners of the Channel Islands Beach Community Services District face recall in the wake of fee increases that could quadruple the cost for sewer, water and trash collection in Oxnard's unincorporated beach communities.

District critics complain that commissioners have demonstrated "an arrogant disregard" for the district's 1,850 property owners this year by doubling fees and supporting three assessment districts for improvements to utilities, fire hydrants, water treatment facilities and roads. The assessments would increase rates for the average property owner by between $30 and $46 a month for the next 15 years.

"Things can be done if they really need to be done in an incremental fashion," said George Johnson, a former water district commissioner who is heading the recall effort. "They don't have to be done all at once at a tremendous cost."

Complaints Listed

Recall proponents also claim that commissioners have overstaffed the district, invested in what they call unnecessary equipment and failed to secure adequate funding from the county for the projects.

District officials counter that the assessments are necessary to make improvements and comply with long-neglected governmental safety codes. Recent increases merely brought the district's rates into line with those in nearby cities, and staffing increases have kept pace with growth in the beach communities, said Gerard Kapuscik, the district's general manager.

The assessment districts would raise about $8 million. County supervisors, who have said they would also contribute to at least two of the districts, approved the first one Tuesday.

"It's our responsibility now to pay," said Richard Roberts, a retired Los Angeles city fire captain who belongs to Citizens Against Recall, a group opposing the ouster of Commissioners Phil White, James J. Henry and Patrick M. Forrest. The group last week withdrew its support of Commissioners William J. Higgins Jr. and Kathy Silveri after they expressed opposition to the proposed assessment districts.

In Somis, school officials are proposing an emergency tax measure that could cost property owners up to $96 a year for five years.

If approved by a two-thirds vote, the measure would raise $125,000 a year, according to Dale Forgey, principal at the Somis Unified School District's only school, Somis Elementary, which serves 325 students.

Bring Back Programs

The district would use the money to restore some educational programs and dig its kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school out of a financial ditch, Forgey said.

That hole deepened last year when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandated the removal of a leaky 550-gallon underground gas tank that cost the district $110,000--a tenth of its million-dollar budget--instead of an expected $2,000. The extra cost came from the unanticipated cleanup of the leak. The school will find out in July whether the state will help cover those costs.

Other unanticipated costs include $70,000 to make up for a shortfall in state funds, Forgey said.

Since 1981, the school has cut its music program, an enrichment program for gifted students and some janitorial, psychological and health services, he said.

"I don't think we intend to add much," said Scott Dwire, a resident and former member of Somis Board of Education. "We'd like to get back to where we were five years ago."

Property owners age 65 and over can be exempted from paying the tax.

In Moorpark, residents will vote on a measure allowing the city to keep all of its income instead of turning it over to the state as required under Proposition 4.

Over the next four years, an estimated $900,000 will be collected by Moorpark above its spending limit, which was set in 1983 when the city incorporated.

If the measure is passed, the surplus could be used over the next three fiscal years to upgrade streets, parks, and augment law enforcement agencies, according to City Manager Steve Kuney.

If the measure fails, the state would continue its practice of issuing small rebates and reductions in assessments to residents with the excess money it collects from the city, Kuney said.

But that refund process is not efficient, Clint Harper, a city councilman contended. "We'd lose one-third of the money just through the process of mailing out the rebate."

As early as the 1985-86 fiscal year, Moorpark's tax proceeds began to exceed its appropriations limit, Kuney said. Excess revenue for that year was refunded in the form of a one-time suspension of the annual park maintenance district assessment, which saved each household about $25.

The spending restriction--known as the Gann Limit--is set at the time of a city's incorporation and increased each year according to a formula based on population growth and the Consumer Price Index.

In Camarillo, voters will be asked to approve an increase from 5% to 9% in the city's transient tax, which is added to all hotel and motel rooms.

The City Council, which has endorsed the increase, says that the additional revenue will be used toward road improvements, cultural events and city beautification. No opposing arguments have been filed.

The tax, which has remained at 5% since it was adopted in 1964, generated $210,000 in revenues for the city last year. A 9% tax is expected to bring in about $380,000 annually.

Times staff writers Donna Dowling, Jesse Katz and Meg Sullivan contributed to this article.

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