The West Side Community Healthcare District, which oversees the area’s ambulance service, is urging the community to participate in a possible package tax that would be used to help fund the district for years to come.
The district is working with CivicMic, a public engagement company, and together they will host a virtual Zoom meeting at 6 p.m. on December 9 to start discussing a possible package tax. They also created a District Services Survey that residents can complete before the meeting.
A plot tax is being discussed as a way to offset the increasing expenses incurred by the district. As the community has grown, the number of service calls that ambulances must make has increased dramatically, but funding has remained unchanged. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, staff issues and rising costs have all impacted the district’s performance.
The district is primarily funded through billing for services and Measure A, a tax approved by voters in 1984. The tax is applied to all properties in the district, with assessments based on the use of the property. Single family homes are assessed at $ 40 per year and farmland is taxed at 10 cents an acre. These are the maximum amounts authorized by measure A.
“There was no escalation method built into the measure,” said ambulance operations chief Michael Courtney. “It has remained a lump sum and that is why we are in the boat we are in.”
Courtney said the district started the year with about $ 600,000 in reserves and is now below $ 300,000.
There are no details of the proposed plot tax. The district plans to hold a series of meetings to gather feedback from the community and possibly put tax on the ballot, possibly in June 2022.
Plot taxes are a special form of property tax, which must be paid by owners of plots or real estate units. However, unlike standard property taxes, which are based on the value of the property, a property tax is an appraisal based on the characteristics of the plot. These assessments may include the taxation of a parcel based on square footage or per dwelling unit, or the tax may be a flat rate per parcel. The parcel tax is used in California to fund K-12 public education and to fund community amenities districts commonly referred to as “Mello-Roos” districts.
Between 2003 and 2020, California voters approved 56.35% of package taxes and rejected 43.65%, according to Ballotpedia.
The online survey for the district is available at https://www.civicmic.com/west-side-community-healthcare/#WestSideCHDSurvey.
The zoom link for the meeting will be posted on December 9 on https://www.civicmic.com/WestSideCHD.