For the first time in 31 years, residents of Clovis, California, have rejected the rate increases for landscape maintenance districts.
The city’s three landscape maintenance districts had to decide whether to raise the rates – the first increase in 12 years – effective July 1. Two out of the three voted against any increase.
Landscape maintenance costs are added to the annual assessments on property tax bills. The two areas that voted against the measure would have had to pay an additional $33.72 per year, while businesses in the districts would have paid an extra $18.96 per year.
Ballots were sent out in March for both landscaping fee increases and water rate increases. Many were not returned, but as the Fresno Bee explains, water-rate ballots that aren’t returned count as yes votes. In the landscaping rate referendum, however, ballots that are not returned count as abstentions.
While the water rates were approved, the increased landscape maintenance fees failed in two of the three zones.
“One of the things we struggle with is getting the ballots back,” Clovis public utilities director Luke Serpa told The Fresno Bee. “It’s just kind of human nature that the people who are most likely to vote feel most strongly about the issue.”
The Clovis City Council will meet Monday night to discuss how to respond, since the two districts will be short of funding. For the street and median landscaping, $120,000 is needed, and another $54,600 for the parks.
The money collected from residents in certain landscaping districts allows the city to pay the contractors who keep up the landscaping.
“It’s a property value issue,” Serpa said. “Having nicely landscaped streets and parks benefits everybody. It’s like having a good school district.”
Nearly two-thirds of the city’s landscaping is completed via private contractors and Clovis plans to meet with its contractor to revise its street and median services. The city tends to the parks south of Herndon.
“We’re going to have to renegotiate with the contractor, and we’re going to move to 10- to 14-day maintenance schedules,” parks manager Eric Aller said. “Right now, we’re probably out there once a week.”
The district that did approve of the new rates will end up paying more than the other two districts, at $49.86 starting July 1.