Frequently Asked Questions for LMD 86-1
What does a Landscape Maintenance District assessment pay for?
The LMD assessment covers the cost for water, electricity, and contracted labor for tree trimming, gardening, litter control, weed abatement and other upkeep and general maintenance. Landscape improvements in LMD 86-1 are generally located along the streets, medians, and entrances to residential communities.
How will the proposed assessment rate be calculated?
The formula was developed that bases the assessment rate on the number of properties, the size of area that is maintained, the type of improvements currently in the LMD and the property's proximity/access to the improvements.
The proposed re-engineered LMD splits this district into 9 zones. Currently, all properties in the LMD pay the same rate and funds are pooled together. In the proposed re-engineered LMD, each zone responsible for an amount that reflects the zone's proximity to the designated improvements, as well as the size of the area and the types of landscaping.
Does everyone pay the same amount?
In the proposed re-engineered LMD, the only differentiation is that each zone will have its own rate. Assessments are not based on individual property characteristics such as size, estimated value or date of purchase. All properties in the same zone pay the same rate based on a formula that considers the size of the area (square footage), types of landscaping and proximity to the improvements.
What areas of Poway are being asked to vote on a new assessment structure?
The City of Poway will send ballots to property owners in two LMDs for a vote on a new assessment structure. Each LMD is undertaking its own vote that is specific to that LMD. The ballot outcome for each LMD will be measured by votes in that LMD.
When will the ballot be mailed and when are they due?
Ballots will be mailed on March 15, 2018. Property owners have a 45-day window to return postage pre-paid ballots.
What will it take to pass the ballot?
The vote will be based on a simple majority of ballots received. All property owners receiving ballots have a voice and an opportunity to determine the future service level and improvements in their LMD.
What happens if the LMD ballot doesn't pass?
Property owners would continue to pay their current assessment rate and there will continue to be insufficient funding to pay for landscaping. This means reduced service maintenance levels and no opportunity for reinvesting in landscaping improvements.
If the measure passes, does the City have plans for increasing maintenance levels and improving the current landscape?
In the short term, the frequency of maintenance service would be increased beginning July 1, 2018.
As soon as it's financially feasible, the City would develop a plan - with input from the property owners – to address capital reinvestments. The estimated timeframe is within five years. Sample landscaped renderings are available to view on the LMD 86-1 Ballot webpage.
If passed, will the assessment stay the same or is there a provision to raise the rates?
The main objective of collecting an assessment is to provide maintenance service in an LMD area. The proposed ballot would include the opportunity for the City to adjust assessments based on the San Diego consumer price index. The CPI adjustment is optional (as needed) and maxes out at 5 percent.
Why is a CPI adjustment necessary?
At this time, revenue collected in LMD 86-1 remains flat, but costs associated with water, power and contracted maintenance continue to rise. The assessment collected in this district can only be used in this district and, conversely, money spent to maintain this districted is only collected from within the district. If a new rate was set with no mechanism to keep pace with inflation, then the cycle of declining services would inevitably begin again.
Are there ways to keep costs down, such as by creating a volunteer task force to help?
While the City of Poway works with volunteer groups for maintenance in areas that are part of the General Fund (such as park and trail maintenance), it's not feasible in the LMDs. It comes down to an issue of liability and sustainability. The LMD would have to cover the cost of recruiting, training and scheduling volunteers and covering the liability if something happens.
When does the City provide services in the LMD areas?
The City is responsible for covering "general benefits" such as weed abatement and rodent control. During storms, City crews provide a first-line of defense and moves trees out of the road, but the contractors handle tree removal and that funding comes out of the assessment funding for each district affected.
What is the current budget for LMD 86-1?
The current budget is $332,670. Each LMD has its own budget and information about the current fiscal year, along with the engineer's report, is public record. (View the City Council agenda report).
How often does the City rebid contracts for maintenance? How are the maintenance contracts monitored?
The City rebids the contracts every 3 to 5 years. The maintenance contracts are monitored on a daily basis.
Will the improvements cover tree trimming or street sweeping?
Street sweeping is paid for out of the general fund. Tree trimming and sweeping the sidewalks is a part of the LMD.
The trees along Espola Road are a concern to many residents – what can the City do?
The trees and their care are part of LMD 86-1 as specified when the district was formed. Without sufficient funds in the LMD, the City is limited as to what it can do. Removing trees can be expensive (up to $10,000 per eucalyptus tree) and there are an estimated 1,250 trees in LMD 86-1 along the Espola Road corridor.