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Assessment district moves forward

June 20, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council approved in principle a new benefit assessment district for Main Street in which property owners would pay a self-imposed tax for the upkeep of the area.

Before the district — also known as a lighting and maintenance improvement district — can be formally created and assessments collected, those owning property between the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the east and Imperial Avenue to the west must approve it.

Alleys along Main Street would be included.

Marco Di Mandri, president of San Diego-based New City America Inc. and city consultant, told the council the results of the vote will be weighted according to how much each property owner would pay into the district. He also said a simple majority in favor of the district is sufficient for the City Council to establish the district. Should a simple majority vote against the formation, the council could not form the district.

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Di Mandri said the benefit district would raise about $186,030.95 in its first year, expected to start January 2004. With the recently formed business improvement district, he said the two would raise between $225,000 and $230,000 annually.

With the council's approval in principle, the city will mail out ballots to property owners. All of the properties within the district's boundaries, including city, county and Imperial Irrigation District, will be assessed if the district is ultimately approved.

In addition to the ballots, the City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the matter at the Aug. 7 meeting. The ballots will be counted after the hearing.

Di Mandri said the district would be managed by a private nonprofit organization made up of property and business owners in the area.

The vote was 3-0-2, with Mayor Larry Grogan, Councilman Ray Castillo and Councilman Jack Dunnam voting "yes." Council members Jack Terrazas and Cheryl Walker abstained due to conflicts of interest. Grogan also has a conflict of interest, but the city's rule of necessity was invoked, whereby voting members are chosen by lot.

Of the money raised, 66 percent, or $122,780.42, would go toward maintenance and cleaning; 30 percent, or $55,809.29, would go toward operations, management and advocacy; and 4 percent, or $7,441.24, would go to reserves.

The benefit assessment district is intended to improve the business district image, attract new customers to the area, increase sales, increase Main Street occupancies and ultimately increase property values.

The generation of funds would be based on linear footage and gross property size.

For the core area — a portion of Fourth through Eighth streets — the annual assessment would be $9.66 per linear foot and $0.05655 per square foot. For the noncore area — all other sections of the proposed district — the annual assessment would be $7.25 per linear foot and $0.0424 per square foot.

In other business, the council:

· sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, approved the sale of three lots in the RDA's Centerpoint Business Park for $179,000 for the construction of a 37,000 square foot assembly plant. The operation is expected to produce custom cables and harnesses used in the manufacture of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

· Also sitting as the RDA, approved the sale of one lot in Centerpoint for $98,964 for a storage facility associated with Imperial Valley Recycling Center Inc..

· approved spending $53,000 from general fund reserves to retain four temporary full-time park maintenance employees through the end of the calendar year.

· heard a report on a survey of the city's quality of life.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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