RIVERSIDE – As a possible solution for covering the extra costs of services in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, the board of supervisors approved a plan to analyze the creation of specially designated districts Tuesday, Aug. 29.
“This is simply asking staff to dive in a little further to see what options there are going forward,” Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, who introduced the proposal, said. “We might be able to identify some mechanism for greater revenues to support services.”
Jeffries’ directive, which the board approved 4-0 with Supervisor John Tavaglione absent, is for the Office of County Counsel, the Assessor-Clerk-Recorder, the Office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector and other agencies to determine whether establishing community facilities districts where new housing developments are planned might secure county revenue for roads, public lighting, water infrastructure and public safety services within each development – without putting increased pressure on the general fund.
The supervisor noted that community facilities districts have been successfully used in many locations to cover costs of functions that are exclusively beneficial to the people or businesses within those areas. He cited lighting maintenance districts and county service areas as other examples.
Jeffries displayed rough calculations indicating that the expense of funding public safety activities in unincorporated communities was three times more than what the county receives in property tax revenue from those residents.
“You can see the shortfall,” the supervisor said.
His goal, if the analyses pan out, would be to designate areas where subdivisions are in the works as community facilities districts, with property owners obligated – and informed in advance of the need – to pay a yearly tax attached only to that district.
“This is a very reasonable request,” Supervisor Chuck Washington said. “Less than 400,000 of the county’s residents live in unincorporated areas. It can be difficult to provide services to them. I’m always willing to listen to another way of getting business done.”
Supervisor Marion Ashley said he was similarly impressed, lauding Jeffries’ idea as “a great undertaking” as the county struggles to erase a structural budget deficit.
“We need to hold our own and come out ahead,” he said. “But we also need to be careful and make sure people aren’t paying twice for the same service.”
The complete analysis is slated to be returned for board consideration before year’s end.