Maximum Assessment Rate

218 Process to Increase Maximum Assessment Rate

CivicMic works with the City of Fairfield (the “City”) to facilitate community outreach and public engagement opportunities for the City’s Landscaping and Lighting Maintenance Districts (“LLMDs”). In Fairfield, many of the LLMDs have reached their maximum assessment rates and either are or will be experiencing a budget shortfall if no action is taken by the City and stakeholders. To mitigate the consequences of this shortfall, such as reduced services, these LLMDs will be going through the 218 process to increase their maximum assessment rate to support landscaping services. In this post CivicMic shares why the LLMDs must go through a 218 process and form a new district to increase their maximum assessment rate.

Maximum Assessment Rate

The maximum assessment rate is the maximum rate that property owners may be charged annually to pay for services performed by their LLMD. This rate was established in the initial Engineer’s Report for each district. Often the Engineer’s Report will contain an inflator and the rate may be increased every year at that percentage until it reaches the maximum assessment.

Why Does a New District Have to Be Formed?

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 218 “Right to Vote on Taxes Act”. This impacted the assessment process by making it necessary for local governments to conduct a vote approval process amongst stakeholders for any new assessment before it could be levied. Since an LLMD cannot charge property owners beyond what has been determined to be the maximum assessment rate in the initial Engineer’s Report, a new district must be voted on and formed with a new assessment rate maximum for there to be a rate increase within the LLMD. Services may or may not be changed at all for the district, but a new assessment rate may be established. If a new district is not formed, then the LLMD may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to fund ongoing services.

To learn more about the 218 process, please click here.

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8 thoughts on “218 Process to Increase Maximum Assessment Rate”

  1. I would like a vote on new rate, with inflator, to be set for the present service level. Then I would like a separate vote, but at the same time, for “add-ons” to the present service level, with the incremental cost, should both the base level of service and a particular add-on pass. This will require the engineer’s report to include an analysis of the add-ons. Before the engineer’s report is completed, assessment payers should be polled on what add-ons they would like to have analyzed and included in the vote.

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your participation. The project manager will reach out to you directly about this.

  2. You can publish all of the rhetoric you want about the Prop 218 vote, but the remaining issue is the general benefit versus the special benefit. I don’t care if it was grandfathered in or not! Fair is fair! The homeowners should not be paying for 100% of the maintenance of Hilborn Road and Lyon Road. I know the City makes a contribution, but it is not based on any formula and isn’t enough money!

    1. Hi Charlie, thank you for your feedback. This post was released in response to questions from community members to inform residents about why a new district needs to be formed in order to increase rates. We hear you, and the special and general benefits analysis will be available in the new engineer’s report once it’s released.

      1. You need to discuss the general benefit vs special benefit with the city before you put anything in print. I had coffee with Ryan about this subject and the General fund budget doesn’t have any more money to contribute.
        So you know I’m not a half-baked resident, I worked for the city for 36 1/2 years. I was City Engineer for 15 years and PW Director for 6 1/2. My seal and signature is on many Engineer’s Reports, beginning with Waterman Highlands up to 2006 when I retired.
        Of course, a lot of things have changed. For one, Prop 218. I have lived in Unit 3 of RH since 1998. Good Luck!

  3. I have some very serious concerns about the No. 8 (Kolob Estates) Maintenace District. My wife and I moved into our new home in the district some thirty years ago. Immediately we started to experience the effects. The Hill was declared an Open Space and was opened to the public. Rustle Court entrance became the starting point for parked cars, drug use and fires. After many years of working with the Mayor, Fairfield Police, Fairfield Fire, Open Space Rangers and forming a Neighborhood Watch Group, were we able to fence it off and close it to the public. I believe our district was also required to pay for the weed abatement on the hill. Something happened in City Planning that made our area sort of an afterthought. Why is our District so small, why did the city make concessions to the homeowners of Burbank and Capitola that created strips of brush and trees to screen the new subdivision? The homes on Rustle Court lost a part of their backyards so that the Redwood tress could be planted. It’s my understanding that this issue went to Council because the homeowners on Burbank were told that this area would not be built on when they built their new homes. So, a deal was struck, and we have been paying to maintain it for over thirty years. Those trees are now so large they reach out over my yard. Why was the strip created between my yard and the street? This strip containing shrubs and our trees has been left to its own since it was put in. It certainly doesn’t enhance our neighborhood, if anything, it’s made it worse. We have been left on own. Over the years, many neighbors have resorted to operating the strips sprinkler system and doing repairs because it was not getting done. The real joy was knowing that our little district pays for a portion of the lawned and scrubbed walkway on Oliver and Waterman leading to Ranch Solano. Before we move ahead, we need to see exactly what we have been paying for. If we no longer pay for the Oliver and Waterman strips, maintenance behind homes and the open space, we may not require additional funds. With the history of how this district has been handled, I have concerns about changing the way the city can charge us in the future. Asking for additional funds from us, dose not solve the issue of trust. Let’s first look at a better plan for managing what we pay for.

  4. I’m in Rancho Solano (LLMD5). I understand, for decades, everyone paid the same, $663 last year for lights, trees, maintenance, etc. We understood that, at least for the 21 years I’ve been here. Why did you make larger lots, larger houses pay more, by declaring special benefits require more from some than others? It’s a wealth tax essentially.
    My home is my castle, and I willingly paid for its amenities, and the cost to live there. My neighbors don’t just walk in the door and use my house. The streets, trees, maintenance et al on the other hand are local COMMUNITY benefits. I should not pay more for the lawn maintenance, light across the street than someone else. As you’ve done it, about half of us will see increases, and half will have this part of property tax reduced, WHILE INCREASING THE AMOUNT BY 52% !
    You didn’t even offer a same dollar number for everyone to consider – why not? And, I assume every other district is having this wealth tax curve impressed upon them. Who decided to create a wealth tax curve instead of a straight line, and do they have that right? I consider Special Benefits, a wealth tax curve on common facilities ludicrous. Lumping everything as “ improvements” is a misuse , as the bulk is routine maintenance.
    I consider Rancho Solano VERY well maintained, and understand costs increase. I consider a 52% step jumping, becoming annually automated ad infinitum very questionable. I strongly disagree that after decades that you have decided to create a curve, making some neighbors pay more than others for the same, COMMON facilities. It’s not right.

    1. Hello Jeff, thank you for your question and apologies for the delay. All single family homes do not pay the same amount because not all parcels in the LLMD are identical in size and other characteristics, some will receive more special benefit than others. The formula to use for lot size, building size, ADT and land use has been devised to determine the proportional special benefit received by each parcel. The formula takes into account multiple factors in order to compensate for any dis-proportionality that might have resulted from relying exclusively on a single factor. We take guidance on this topic from multiple court cases, but primarily Dahms v Downtown Pomona PBID.

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