Faced with community opposition to a proposed annual 4 percent special tax, directors of the community services district debated a compromise proposed by Director Jim Lamb. He motioned that the board consider another way to address district overspending without losing services.
Although the community master plan calls for an annual tax increase of zero to 4 percent to build up reserves, Lamb suggested next year’s budget reflect only a tax increase for public safety, and the local parks and library, as opposed for all four of the annual special taxes.
“This is a fair compromise,” he said. “I just don’t want to be more in the (financial) hole. That’s a fair trade.”
After several residents addressed the board to demand no new taxes, Director Jass Singh tried to amend Lamb’s motion to reflect their wishes, but his motion was defeated. He also tried three times to pass a motion to reduce the salaries and compensation of the community’s 13 employees, which failed to get a second each time it was introduced.
“We have to stop the taxes and live within our means,” Singh argued. “We need to define boundaries.”
When questioned what would happen if the board did not approve the tax increases, Director Celeste Farron said the district would have to cut services. She said the only other alterative would be to cut the budget by $200,000.
Farron explained that the community has basic needs and directors have no alternative other than to balance the budget each year. She said even in light of the tax increases, Mountain House is doing better than most communities. She said the taxes enable directors to avoid spiraling down a financial hole in the future.
Lamb said some of the expenditures they face are beyond their control, due to inflation. He said electricity to power the street lights and other parts of the community had increased by $80,000.
“If we don’t increase (taxes), over time inflation will eat us up,” Lamb said. “Inflation is real … going up a lot this year.”
After a number of residents questioned the board’s actions, Director Andy Su asked them why they never brought their concerns to the board sooner. He said residents need to call or e-mail board members with questions or concerns.
Su explained that the board was elected to make decisions on behalf of the residents, but they couldn’t poll the entire community to get a feel for all of their concerns.
Lamb’s motion to approve the budget was passed by a vote of 3-2, with directors Singh and Su voting in opposition. The 1.75 percent tax increase translates into $25 per Mountain House household, officials said.