Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Supes set hearing for Street Lighting District rates; no increase expected

On July 14 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing to set the San Diego County Street Lighting District annual assessment for properties in Zone A of that district.

The assessment amount for fiscal year 2010-11 is not expected to increase from the current rate of $6.48 per benefit unit. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who also serve as the board of the San Diego County Street Lighting District, set the hearing date on June 23. The supervisors’ June 23 action also approved the Engineer’s Report for the street lighting district.

The County of San Diego’s Department of Public Works, which operates the San Diego County Street Lighting District, has adopted a policy of slight annual increases to keep pace with energy costs rather than a large increase such as the one in 2004. Stabilized energy, labor, and material costs have allowed the assessment rate to remain unchanged since 2008.

“I’m happy to report that the Street Lighting District is in good shape,” said Department of Public Works Deputy Director Donna Turbyfill. “Currently our reserves are sufficient.”

Turbyfill noted that the district’s goal is for reserves to be at approximately half of the district’s annual operating costs.

“We’re at that amount, so we don’t need to raise rates,” she said.

“The big one is energy cost,” Turbyfill said of increased expenses. “It goes up a little bit, but it hasn’t been significant over the last two or three years.”

The San Diego County Street Lighting District was formed in September 1987. The district itself includes the entirety of unincorporated San Diego County; Zone A covers parcels which benefit from street lights in the district while Zone B consists of the remainder of the district. The district operates approximately 10,000 lights, some of which are owned by the county and some of which are owned by San Diego Gas & Electric but for which the San Diego County Street Lighting District pays the electricity costs.

Zone A includes 792 street lights in Fallbrook, 607 of which are owned by the county and 185 of which are the property of SDG&E. Bonsall’s 77 lights in Zone A consist of 31 county-owned and 46 SDG&E-owned facilities. In Rainbow two lights in Zone A are owned by the county and five are owned by SDG&E for a total of seven lights.

Zone A covers more than 100,000 benefit units and 200,000 customers. In 1987 the voters approved an assessment rate of up to $25.00 per year per benefit unit, with a single-family home equating to one benefit unit, although in 1990 the fee was reduced from $23.00 to $2.50 per benefit unit. That $2.50 assessment remained unchanged until 2004, when rising energy costs and a state budget shift from special districts did not allow increased efficiency to offset the additional expenses.

The assessment was increased to $5.33 per benefit unit for fiscal year 2004-05; $5.60 for 2005-06; $5.88 for 2006-07; $6.17 for 2007-08; and $6.48 for 2008-09.

“We’re holding steady,” Turbyfill said. “We just have to watch it to make sure we don’t have to do any sudden jumps again.”

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