City sets assessment hearings

Council reduces residential assessment after hearing concerns

City sets  assessment hearingsBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council approved moving forward with two annual assessment public hearings for a landscaping and lighting district and a drainage benefit district. The hearing, which will allow for additional public comment, will be during next week’s council meeting, May 15, 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Council voted unanimously on the preliminary approval with some changes – namely the reduction of a $3,600 landscaping and lighting assessment on four residential parcels near Walmart.

The parcels are owned by Nicky and Terry Haven and Dave Hoagland. The Havens appealed to the city when they learned that their share of the assessment was nearly 10 times that for some other nearby residences. In addition to an assessment reduction, the Havens requested a refund for a different $3,600 fee they were mistakenly charged by the city.

The Havens pointed out that when it came to voting on the assessment, Walmart had a majority of the property in the area, so it didn’t matter what the residents voted. The district was formed to cover an estimated $69,000 in annual maintenance costs to the city.

According to Havens, the development of the area did nothing to raise the value of their undeveloped properties.

Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Stephens asked why only six residential parcels were included in the district. Consultant Jim McGuire of Willdan Financial Services, via teleconference, said that the improvements had already been installed.

“They didn’t ask for those improvements,” said Stephens. “It does seem a little unfair that some of these properties just got lumped in when Walmart was developed.”

While sympathetic, Stephens questioned the precedent of lowering the assessment.

“What happens if 10 other people want their assessments reduced?” she asked.

McGuire said that the Havens were a unique case because they were included in a district with such lopsided voting and where the improvements had already been completed. Council voted to reduce the assessment to $200 annually while verbally agreeing to also refund the erroneous charge. The vote included initiating public hearing proceedings as well as preliminary approval of the annual engineer’s report.

Council also voted to approve the drainage benefit assessment hearing. Agenda information will be available at ridgecrest-ca.gov/ridgecrest-city-council.

Story First Published: 2019-05-10