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One Resident's Views on Landscaping Taxes in West Covina

August 06, 1989

On Monday, the West Covina City Council will determine the fate of tax assessments for Landscape Maintenance Districts 6 and 7. Their decision will potentially impact thousands of residents. Their decision will definitively impact hundreds of property tax bills.

Ordinarily, the setting of tax assessments would be the uneventful culmination of hours of routine calculations. But the circumstances surrounding these "benefit assessment districts" are anything but ordinary.

These maintenance districts were established in 1981 to provide special landscaping that would benefit the neighborhoods encompassed by these assessed areas. However, to a large degree, these districts remain predominantly incomplete. The city has yet to maintain any landscaping in District 6, and maintains only two small areas of District 7. While the city has performed little to no actual landscape maintenance, they have collected and spent landscape tax dollars.

This issue is compounded by the fact that the city has diverted the interest revenues of the districts to the citywide general fund. Once in the general fund, those districts' revenues are used for citywide expenses. Furthermore, the city has used district monies to establish "contingency funds." They have done so without any direction from the state codes which establish the district guidelines.

The resolution to these issues will be reflected in the assessments set at this Monday's council meeting. The city staff will recommend reducing the assessment for both districts. However, these reductions do not include full resolution of the issues. If the City Council takes into consideration the "interest revenue" and "contingency fund" issues, then the property tax assessments should be discounted at a greater rate.

As a resident of District 6, I encourage all of my neighbors to attend this Monday's City Council meeting. If they have never attended a council meeting in the past, now is the time to stand up and be counted. Together, we can send a message to our City Council, calling for corrective measures to be taken in our neighborhoods.

FRANK BARBAGALLO

West Covina

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