Balloted Revenue Measures
SCI Consulting Group assists public agencies with the implementation of Revenue Measures to secure comprehensive funding for operations and maintenance, services and capital improvements. We work primarily in the areas of flood control, parks and recreation, landscape and lighting, mosquito and vector control, cannabis, homelessness and housing, schools, and fire protection. SCI also provides support for balloted and non-balloted revenue approaches in support of storm drainage and water quality.
As California’s leader in local Proposition 218-compliant funding measures, SCI guides clients through the entire balloting process, funding options and feasibility planning, community polling, Engineer’s/Fee/Rate studies, community outreach, balloting including design, printing and mailing, tabulation and beyond. Our unmatched record of winning ballot measures for essential local government services ensures that you can be confident as we assist you through this process from start to finish.
Special taxes, including for parcel attributes, transient occupancy (T.O.T.s), sales, gross receipts including cannabis gross receipts, property transfer, etc., continue to be a very viable revenue mechanism for many public agencies. However, special taxes require the considerable challenge of two-thirds majority for approval.
SCI is well-experienced assisting public agencies through the complex process of successfully implementing special taxes. Recently, SCI has been on the forefront of the potential benefit of the recent City of Upland v. California Cannabis Coalition which strongly indicates that special taxes proposed by citizen groups using the long-standing initiative process may only require a 50%+1 approval.
Proposition 218 defines specific engineering, administrative, noticing and balloting processes for implementation of property-related fees, but exempts water, sewer and refuse collection services from the balloting. Subsequent legal cases and tradition suggest storm drainage fees are property-related and require balloting.
SCI is the state’s leader in supporting cities and counties in implementing legally defensible revenue mechanisms for storm drainage operations, maintenance and capital improvements, as well as stormwater quality services. SCI is working on the implementation of SB 231 which clarifies that funding from storm drainage operations is indeed exempt from the property related fee balloting requirement.
Various California Code sections support the use of benefit assessments to fund operations, maintenance and capital improvements for flood control, parks and recreation, landscape and lighting, mosquito and vector control, and fire protection. SCI is the state’s leader in developing sophisticated and legally defensible Engineer’s Reports in support of benefit assessments, and with the complex procedural and administrative requirements. In fact, SCI has implemented over 140 community-wide benefit assessments in California, more than every other firm, combined.
Kentfield Fire Protection District
In 2013, SCI assisted the District with a new annual special tax to fund emergency services. SCI’s services included conducting a feasibility analysis and associated public opinion research. Following the survey showing a high level of community support for a new funding measure, SCI developed messaging and outreach materials for the District, and coordinated the mailed election materials and requirements. This new special tax, with an annual rate of $0.10 per square foot and tiered rates for vacant properties, was successful and received 75.42% voter support. The new tax is generating over $600,000 per year.
Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District
SCI assisted the District with the annexation and successful assessment ballot measure of the eastern portion of Placer County in 2004, and again in 2007 for a county-wide assessment (except the community of Sheridan) to support expanded services and a permanent facility. SCI effectively guided the District on providing useful information to residents and property owners about the District and the proposed services. We continue to administer these assessments.
Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District
Bethel Island is the most heavily populated Delta island and had suffered from severe property tax revenue deflation loss and local economic hardships. The local population had considerable skepticism toward the local governing agency, the Bethel Island Municipal Improvement District (“BIMID”). BIMID had proposed a special tax in 2010 which was soundly defeated. To complicate matters even more, there was a long-stalled development project (called Delta Cove) that was beginning to be revived and potentially include more than one-third of all the houses on the island. Negotiations between the developer and BIMID were difficult, and the proposed assessment was a major point of contention. The community was distrustful of both BIMID and the developer.
SCI was hired to manage all aspects of a proposed new revenue mechanism in order to leverage the Department of Water Resources grant funding by providing the required local funding share and to fund inadequate maintenance. SCI realized that considerable effort would have to be made to regain credibility in the community. A comprehensive, multi-faceted community outreach plan was developed that included direct meetings with major property owners, as well as community meetings, wherein property owners could engage Board members and engineering experts. Several community meetings were conducted along with special one-on-one meetings with major property owners and developers.
SCI developed a Proposition 218 compliant engineering approach and Engineer’s Report that captured the unique attributes of flood depths and housing stock (i.e., many houses are built on stilts) with a strict goal to create a fair, equitable, and easy-to-understand rate structure. The rate structure was well-accepted by the community and served to help it win widespread support.
SCI assisted the District and other project team members with outreach efforts with property owners and developers. The assessment was ultimately approved with over 68% support, only four years after a similar tax (Measure X) managed by a different consultant, received only 41% support.
City of Berkeley
Balloted Property-Related Fee
In 2018, the City of Berkeley sought to explore and possibly implement a stormwater funding mechanism to fund an array of stormwater-related needs as outlined in their 2012 Watershed Management Plan. SCI was hired to work through the process in three stages: Program needs evaluation and funding options; public opinion survey to ascertain the community’s priorities and willingness to fund this critical infrastructure program, and implementation of a funding mechanism if sufficient support existed. After completing the first phase, SCI conducted an opinion survey that showed approximately 60% of the community supported investment in Green Infrastructure to protect the environment and make improvements to the aging storm drain system.
SCI was authorized to proceed with a Stormwater Fee Rate Study and implementation of a property-related fee process. The initiative won soundly with 60.75% support. This project had the added complexity of being combined with a street light assessment proceeding simultaneously.