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Commission endorses Menifee park takeover — but with a few catches

By in Press Enterprise on July 28, 2017

By Michael Williams

Menifee’s city government should be allowed to take over more than 20 parks and recreation facilities from a special district, a regional body decided Thursday, July 27.

But there are a couple of significant caveats — including holding an election and making a $1 million payment to Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District.

After much deliberation, the Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission voted 5-0 to endorse the city’s application to extend its jurisdiction over the facilities within its boundaries that are now operated by the Valley-Wide. Commissioners Kevin Jeffries and Marion Ashley, both of whom are county supervisors, recused themselves from the vote to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

The commission, which oversees government boundary adjustments within the county, is scheduled to finalize its decision at its next meeting Aug. 24.

In making their determination, the commissioners decided that the transfer, technically known as a detachment, requires a vote among residents who pay park landscaping and maintenance taxes in two sections of the district that overlap Menifee’s borders.

In requiring the vote, the commissioners agreed with the agency staff’s position that splitting the two taxation areas would kick in a provision of the state constitution stemming from Prop. 218 that changes to tax assessments must be subjected to a vote of the people who would pay them. Prop. 218 limits the ability of local government agencies to levy taxes for specific uses.

City officials and its legal advisors contended that no election would be needed as long as the same tax rates were kept in place, and that such elections could result in voters’ rejecting the assessments. As a result, the proposed detachment would be nullified.

“It’s very disappointing because we’re really back at zero,” Menifee Mayor Neil Winter said following the meeting at the Riverside County Administrative Center. “I haven’t been able to find one lawyer […]    

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