Copper Mountain Mesa Residents Reject Unincorporated County Road Fee Increase

The residents of Copper Mountain Mesa have elected against upping the $20 per parcel annual assessment they are paying for road grading and road maintenance to $60 per parcel.
Copper Mountain Mesa lies within the an unincorporated portion of San Bernardino County in the Mojave Desert, and falls within the jurisdiction of County Service Area 70, Zone R-19.
According to Jeff Rigney, the director of the county’s special district department, “The formation of CSA 70 R-19 was approved by the board of supervisors on June 2, 1986 to provide road grading for 91.71 miles of roadway in the Copper Mountain Mesa area. At that time, Ordinance 86-5 was adopted authorizing a $20 per parcel per year annual service charge on the property tax bill to fund these services. Since 1986, the service charge has remained at $20 per parcel annually, with no inflationary adjustments. Due to increased costs over the past 30 years, service levels have diminished as a means of adjusting for inflation, and for the past three years, expenditures in the district have exceeded revenues, which has depleted fund balance and reserves each year. The purpose of the County Services Area 70 R-19 property owner election was to increase the current service charge for road grading and road maintenance services.”
On January 24, 2017, the board of supervisors authorized a property owner election in Community Service Area 70 R-19 to be conducted by MK Election Services, an independent election service provider, and scheduled May 2, 2017 as the date for the public hearing to certify the election results. The election asked property owners to approve or disapprove an increase in the service charge from $20 per parcel to $60 per parcel with an annual inflationary increase of 2.5 percent for road grading and road maintenance services. The date of the election was March 27, 2017.
The property owner election was conducted, compiled and certified by MK Election Services. There were 2051 ballots sent out, of which 787 were returned, with 340 of those designating a ‘yes’ vote; and 445 indicating a ‘no’ vote.
“The ballot did not receive the required majority approval vote,” said Rigney. “Therefore, the election is considered unsuccessful and there will be no increase in the service charge for Community Service Area 70 R-19. The vote by mail turn out reflects the number of ballots cast. The total votes reflect the number of votes counted from the ballots that were cast. In this case, 785 votes were counted from 787 ballots cast. The difference between the total votes cast and the number of votes counted represents ballots that were returned and challenged via the signature review process.”
It cost the county $12,923 to conduct the election.
Said Rigney, “With the failure of the election, County Service Area 70 R-19 will not have sufficient revenue to provide the intended level of road maintenance as approved when the district was formed. Staff will consider various alternatives regarding the level of service provided within County Service Area 70 R-19 and will return to the board at a later date with a recommendation.”

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