Friday, November 27, 2015 • 07:29

Parks and Rec board restarts funding campaign

Vice President Tom Bumgardner stresses the need for more funding for the VCPRD on May 21. He proposed a mail-in ballot as the district's best option.
May 28, 2014
Despite dire predictions from funding consultants at an April board meeting, the Valley Center Parks and Recreation District board will continue to pursue plans for a ballot initiative to bring in more money. Citing a lack of communication and thorough research by their consultant, PSOMAS, the board unanimously voted on May 21 to create an Advance Planning Committee to take charge on the project.

"We need financing to maintain your parks", said Tom Bumgardner, vice president. "If we don't do something like this, we're going backwards. We might as well resign and let the county have it".

The board had hoped to place a tax initiative on the November ballot to bring in funds for the cash-strapped district. In no uncertain terms, PSOMAS advised the board that their initiative would fail based on what they saw as a lukewarm response to a recent survey.

However, after looking at the numbers, Jon Vick believed to have found a crucial oversight by PSOMAS. According to Vick, who will sit on the new committee, PSOMAS was working with the false number of 27,944 parcels in the district, while the actual number is closer to 9,000. This led PSOMAS to conclude that the rate or return on the surveys was much lower than it actually was.

"I think with an active subcommittee working with PSOMAS we can move this forward", said Vick. With 200 of the 254 returned surveys in favor of some degree of tax assessment, Vick felt there was a good chance of the assessment passing.

Although the November ballot is still an option, the board may instead opt to use a mail-in ballot at any time, where a simple majority vote is all that's needed to pass the assessment.

The board was in agreement on the lack of courtesy and follow-through on the part of PSOMAS, with President Marcia Townsend saying, "It's like pulling teeth to get information from them". However, with $10,000 already sunk into the consultants, the board may continue working with them to get all they paid for.

The Advance Planning Committee will have many questions to answer, including how much money to ask for in the ballot initiative, but now there is less pressure to make a decision before the November election. Funds from the initiative would be used to maintain existing parks and trails, as well as finance programs on Parks and Rec facilities.

Also at the meeting, the district is now in Escrow regarding the possible purchase of 15.5 acres off of Vesper Road to replace the property recently sold at the intersection of Lilac and Valley Center roads. The purchase price is $300,000 and the district has 120 days to make a final decision.

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