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Ventura Street-Light Tax Soundly Rejected

Sixty-two percent of those who voted turn down an added $10 annual assessment.

October 04, 2003|Rodney Bosch | Times Staff Writer

Ventura property owners have overwhelmingly rejected a new street-light tax intended to offset increased electricity costs.

Of the 15,094 ballots cast, 62% of the property owners voted against creating a second assessment district to help pay for operating and maintaining street lights in Ventura.

The assessment would have cost single-family homeowners about $10 annually in addition to the $31 they already pay each year, city engineer Rick Raives said.

Without the new assessment, the street-lighting district will begin running a deficit of $100,000 to $170,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1, Raives said.

"We will have to begin using general fund money to close the funding gap," Raives said.

"We already have serious issues dealing with the general fund."

The street-lighting district, created in 1960, generates about $870,000 a year. The assessment rates for the district have not increased since 1995.

The district had been running a surplus until June 2001, when Southern California Edison raised the cost of electricity during the state's energy crisis.

"The cost to operate the street lights went up 50%," Raives said.

As a result, the district surplus dried up, he said.

About 28,000 property owners received the assessment tax ballots in the mail about a month ago. Voters had until Monday to submit their ballots.

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