To the Editor: Opposes parks assessment

I am writing about the Parks and Recreation assessment process approved by our Ridgecrest City Council as it seems that our council members have changed their support of the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation aquatics pool complex. The assessment approved by the council was done to rebuild Pinney Pool. In 2017 City Manager Ronald Strand expressed support of the IWVEDC aquatic complex. As he said:

“...Pinney Pool alone could potentially be a $3-million project, but wouldn’t be prioritized unless things fell through with the IWV Economic Development Corporation’s plans to build an aquatic center.” His comments were made during a Dec.22, 2017, council meeting during discussion about approving a $92,500 contract with SCI Consulting Group to establish a park assessment district. Council members approved the contract.

Swing forward to 2019 and the main reason Strand and our council members want to form an assessment district is to rebuild Pinney Pool and support the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. City officials plan to mail documents (ballots) to property owners to fill out and return (vote) for a parks and recreation assessment district. What happened to the city council supporting the nonprofit IWVEDC’s aquatic complex? Why are local property owners now responsible for rebuilding the pool and permanently maintaining the city’s parks and recreation facilities?

Oh, yes, the assessment district, if approved by local property owners, will never end as there is no sunset clause in the assessment district proposal. This means that property owners will be paying for parks and recreation for the rest of their days or until they sell their property.

If approved, this will be the third form of taxation foisted onto city residents. Both Measure L and Measure V were approved by Ridgecrest residents at the ballot box on Election Day. In 2017 $3.4 million was generated through Measure L and Measure V. Measure L expired and Measure V was approved by local voters. Measure V will expire in 2025. In 2019 $4.3 million was generated through Measure V.

I’d think twice before “voting” for the assessment district as there is no sunset clause. City coffers are already receiving Measure V funds to help pay for police and infrastructure. Parks and recreation, including the pool, easily fall within the infrastructure guidelines as we are looking at construction and building maintenance.

I’d also realize that our city officials are dangling the enticing bauble of rebuilding Pinney Pool using the assessment district funds. I’d be wary as in 2017 our city officials were looking to support the IWVEDC’s aquatic complex but changed their mind in 2019.

I could write more but I will end my letter here.

Key points to consider:

1. The proposed parks and recreation district will be a permanent form of taxation. There is no sunset clause included in the assessment. If the assessment is approved, it will be the third form of taxation since 2012.

2. Ridgecrest property owners will permanently foot the bill for parks and recreation upkeep.

I strongly encourage all property owners to “vote” against the city assessment district.

Mary Ash

Story First Published: 2019-03-01