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New gym gets $456K from CSD

Highland Hills residents to fight proposed property tax hike
By: Eric Laughlin Telegraph correspondent
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The El Dorado Hills Community Service District has agreed to invest in a $3 million gym and multi-purpose room at a new elementary school set to break ground in June. The 9,079-square-foot facility, which will be part of Buckeye Union School District’s new Valley View Elementary, will be available to the CSD one hour after school gets out and during peak weekend times for an hourly maintenance fee of $11. The joint use agreement was initially drawn in 2009, with the district’s investment in the project set at $456,000. The CSD will cut a single check for that amount to the school district in December 2012, meaning it won’t affect the budget for this upcoming fiscal year. The funds will come from the community district’s capital deficiency reserve, and possibly from park impact and development fees. District general manager John Skeel and county District 1 supervisor John Knight spoke in support of the project at last week’s monthly CSD meeting. Knight said the agreement will translate to higher property tax intake, as well as additional development fees. Skeel said the $456,000 can be recouped through 56 new home building permits in the growing area of the community known as Blackstone. There are currently plans to build 1,500 homes on a 990 acre plot in the area, which is east of Latrobe Road. “Although it’s an investment that will take time to pay off,” Skeel said. “The benefit to the community will be felt right away.” CSD directors in attendance, (all but Billy Vandegrift), voted in favor of the partnership. Director Tony Rogozinski said return on investment and the district’s need for such a facility were among the factors that led to his vote. Director Wayne Lowery said the agreement will continue to build on a partnership with the school district that traces back to 1982. He also agreed that it would be a good long-term investment. “There aren’t that many people living in Blackstone now, but there will be someday,” he said. “And staff has for the past two or three years identified a lack of indoor recreation facilities.” Other topics covered in last week’s meeting included a proposed rise in property tax for three of the community’s landscape and lighting districts. Those affected include Francisco Oaks, which could see annual per parcel rates go from $250 to $276, Oaktree, which could rise to $128 from $87. But the more controversial of the three rate proposals involved Highland Hills 3, which includes Lenox Drive. A half dozen of the 27 residents in that district came to voice their disapproval with the proposed jump from $399 to $985. Lenox Drive resident Chuck Hancock and others in the district said they don’t see where the money is going. “You talk about daily maintenance, but I don’t see you out there every day,” Hancock said. “It’s more like once a month.” Statements from Hancock and others led the board to delay approving any rate increases for at least a month. There was also question as to whether or not all 27 residents received proper notification. The CSD board had also been scheduled to approve its final operating budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, but the matter was pushed to June so issues such as staffing could be further evaluated.