CSD Passes Budget With Key Favorable Provisions

No new special taxes, added police two key elements

By Bryan Harrison

The Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors met Wednesday, June 21, 2017 for a continuation of the previous week's board meeting. The June 14 meeting ran too long, with too much on the agenda, so this gathering was focused on finalizing the budget for fiscal year 2017-'18, beginning July 1. Over the course of what turned out to be a four-hour discussion, several significant decisions were made and, in the end, a final budget was passed with a vote of 4-1 (President Brian Lucid voting against).

Several key provisions were voted into this budget, including:

  • Adding two (2) full-time deputies to the MH Police Dept;
  • A $10,000 contribution toward construction of the Mountain House Dog Park;
  • and, they voted 4-1 to not increase the Special taxes in the coming year.

As defined within the limited powers the CSD possesses, the board has the authority to raise "special taxes" up to and no more than four percent (4%) annually. Some have made convincing arguments that, with the limited resources the district has at hand, there is a need to increase those special taxes yearly, just to keep up with community needs. Some say even that they should raise them the max of 4% every year. However, others argue that the district is keeping up with inflation and, with the fresh decision to work toward ending the water systems operation and maintenance subsidies, the budget will see some relief. In the end, the board leaned more toward the latter position, with a majority voting for no new special taxes.

In May, the new leaders of the Mountain House Dog Club came to the board with a presentation on moving forward with construction of a dog park within what will be the Mountain House Town Center area. The space in question, immediately behind the eastern edge of the existing phase 1 area of Central Park - out beyond the baseball field - has been drafted and approved by Mountain House Developers, LLC. The park had been slated for the particular area but, due in part to results discovered in a major study done by U.C. Davis (and other research), the area of the park has been expanded to better accommodate various breeds. The added space will also serve to minimize risk for all the dogs and their owners.

The proposed budget for a completed dog park, as presented, could run in the neighborhood of $50,000, said Dog Club President, Monica Collins, at the May board meeting.

The Dog Club has since confirmed that the $25,000 prize money from the PetSafe Bark For Your Park contest from 2013 will still be honored, despite having missed previous deadlines.

We have plans for some great fund-raisers that people will like," Ms. Collins stated. There is also the strong possibility that Mountain House Developers, LLC could incorporate whatever shortfall into their reimbursement package from the downtown. Collins, and her board, have determined not to leave themselves, or the community, at risk should that notion not materialize.

Many folks have long been hoping, wishing, even pleading for a strong police presence in town. One of the arguments made for eliminating the water systems' O&M subsidy was so that funds could be more available to pay for additional police. Funds in this budget for that purpose may not be coming directly out of the first of the scheduled five year water rate increase designed for that purpose, but adding two full-time officers to the force in this budget shows up at least as a good-faith move by the board.

In the end, a very productive evening by the CSD Board should leave residents feeling pleased.