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Irvine : Council OKs Hike in Park Bond Tax

August 26, 1995|RUSS LOAR

Over the objections of one member, the City Council this week approved an increase in the park bond tax paid by homeowners.

The owner of a $200,000 home will see an increase of $3.40 in the park bond tax, from $16 to $19.40 a year, said Jeff Niven, manager of fiscal services.

Irvine voters approved an $18-million park bond in 1974 to build parks and bike trails across the city. But payment amounts have fallen because of an 8.3% decline in property values in the past three years, Niven said.

He told council members that a one-time tax increase would likely preclude the need for any additional revenue. The city owes $7.9 million on the park bond, which Niven projects will be paid off in December, 2001.

Councilwoman Christina L. Shea argued against the tax increase, saying the city should consider using a projected surplus in overall tax revenue to fund the park bond shortfall.

"For me, the priority is that the taxpayers should get their money back," said Shea, who cast the sole dissenting vote on the issue.

But Niven said there is no guarantee the $1 million projected in surplus tax revenue will be available for park bond payments. "There may be a lot of plans for that $1 million on people's ledgers," Niven said.

Even if the surplus tax revenue were used now, Niven said, the park bond tax rate would fall short of raising the required debt payment amount in subsequent years.

"If we wait another year, we'll be looking at a problem twice as large as we have today," Niven said.

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