By Will Fritz

Murrieta City Council re-approves special district fees


Last updated 7/12/2018 at 5:44pm

Murrieta City Council re-approved its existing fees for fire, community services, landscape and lighting districts at its July 3 meeting.

Residents and businesses will continue to pay assessments for the Murrieta Fire District, Community Services District and Landscape and Lighting District, all of which are subsidiaries of the city.

A “standby fee” for fire services has been in place unchanged since it was first approved by the Fire District in 1981. It has been re-approved by the city council each year since 1993.

The fee is fixed at $40 for a single-family home and grows proportionally for commercial and multifamily units to a maximum amount of $480, depending on square footage, Murrieta Fire Chief Scott Ferguson said.

The fee at one time made up as much as 50 percent of the Murrieta Fire Department’s budget, but now accounts for about 10 percent. It’s never been increased from its original 1981 rate.

“It’s been a fixed fee, yet the service demands continue to increase,” Councilman Alan Long said. “We seem to be running into this issue over and over again, but there’s really no solution, and I’d just like to point that out because eventually this is going to be a problem for the fire service.”

Mayor Jonathan Ingram also expressed interest in finding a solution to the fee’s dwindling importance as a revenue source for the Fire Department, but council took no immediate action.

The city’s Community Services District has charged for services like flood control, park maintenance and street sweeping at the same rates since the fees were approved by property owners in 1997 and will continue to charge the same rates, which range from about $45 per property in a residential zone to about $750 in one commercial business center, in 2018-19, according to a staff report.

Finally, property owners will continue to pay maintenance fees to the Murrieta Landscaping and Lighting District, with assessments for each zone varying based on number of parcels and services provided from between about $61 for street lights in one residential zone to more than $1,000 in one industrial zone for full maintenance and street lighting. That district has 29 benefit zones, four of which include 13 sub-zones. Most of those zones have no increases for the next fiscal year. Those with increases range from $1.80 to $38.54 annually, according to city staff.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at a [email protected]


Reader Comments

tomsuttle writes:

I once knew a town with similar financial strains, and aspirations. Montclair California was a city, like Murrieta, which had taken full control and responsibility for its own fire department. That was in early 1967. Finances were tight, and worrisome. Then, the city became home to a brand new major freeway-fronting (the all important factor) mall, the Montclair Plaza. That mall put Montclair, a very simple town, on the path to perpetual financial well being. Tax increases were unnecessary.


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