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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Thousand Oaks

District to Discuss Proposed Taxes

February 01, 2001|JENIFER RAGLAND

Conejo Recreation and Park District leaders tonight will consider asking the city's property owners to tax themselves roughly $25 a year to pay for new playground equipment in parks, open-space trails and ball fields.

Tex Ward, general manager of the park district, said the $1 million in anticipated annual revenue would help make up for property tax money diverted to the state over the past eight years.

At its 7:30 meeting, the park district board is expected to approve a report about the assessment on more than 49,000 property owners, detailing how the money would be spent, Ward said.

Residents of the Dos Vientos subdivision, who already pay an extra fee for parks, would be charged an additional $12.50 a year. All other single-family homeowners would be charged $25 annually, while owners of condominiums and mobile-home dwellers would pay slightly less. Apartment complex owners and commercial property owners would be charged based on the number of units and acreage, respectively.

A simple majority of those who participate in the vote must approve any proposed fees. Ballots would be mailed to property owners beginning March 1, Ward said. The district would then have 45 days to tally the votes.

"It's kind of like the presidential election--we won't know for two months how it turns out," Ward said.

Since the property tax shift to the state began in 1992, the parks district has laid off 27 employees and has lost roughly $8 million. The financial constraints have left a dozen neighborhood parks unfinished and other projects on the back burner, officials said.

A citizens group has been formed to help coordinate a public education campaign in support of the tax.

"Having a good park and recreation district . . . increases the quality of life and the residential property values for all residents in the area," said Bill Buratto, chairman of the Committee to Support Our Parks and Open Space.

The park board meets at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road.

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