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By Will Fritz
Associate Editor 

Fallbrook residents work to establish Community Benefit Program

 

Last updated 10/8/2019 at 7:58pm



As an unincorporated community, there are plenty of things Fallbrook cannot provide for itself.

Things like parks, beautification, events and graffiti removal are all handled by nonprofit organizations and volunteers.

“There are a lot of things in Fallbrook that make Fallbrook, Fallbrook, things like maintaining the islands on South Mission as you enter town,” Roy Moosa, president of the Fallbrook Village Association, said. “Those are all handled by volunteers.”

That’s a system that has worked well for much of the Friendly Village’s history. But that old model is starting to show some cracks. Donation dollars are dwindling, Moosa said, and volunteers aren’t what they used to be.

“The people that have been doing this for years and years and made this town what it is – the volunteer pools are drying up,” he said. “They’re aging, they’re leaving and they’re not being replaced.”

Throw in the increased cost of doing business for events and other things that simply cost money, and Fallbrook is in a crisis; it cannot continue to exist as it has.

“If they stop, this community is no longer going to be what it once was,” Moosa said.

The most obvious solution, he said, is for Fallbrook residents to pitch in for the quality of life they’ve been getting – the old village needs a new tax, he said.

Moosa said he and members of the Village Association and other organizations like the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, Fallbrook Historical Society and others have been in talks with the Fallbrook Public Utility District to administer a Community Benefit Program tax of roughly $5 a month to pay for the services that volunteers are struggling to continue carrying out.

An estimated $500,000 is needed annually to fund infrastructure, improvement projects and maintenance for important community programs in Fallbrook, a statement from Community Benefit Program organizers says, and the $5 monthly tax – which amounts to $60 per year for FPUD ratepayers – would fund that.

The utility district is the most obvious agency to implement the tax, as it covers most of Fallbrook.

Moosa said the Village Association is seeking the public’s support for the tax, which would amount to about $60 per year and would be required to pay only for community services – it could not go to fund utility district operations, FPUD representative Noelle Denke confirmed.

“The funding would all go toward those projects, those improvement upgrades, creation of lighting or parks and there would be no reorganization or staff added,” she said.

The plan is for the funds from the fee to be overseen by a five-to-seven-member board, which would be appointed by the FPUD Board of Directors, Denke said.

The Village Association conducted two public information meetings, one Saturday, Sept. 28, and the other Tuesday, Oct. 2, for community members to learn about the proposal.

Next steps are for the tax to go before the FPUD board for a public hearing before beginning a protest process – if more than 25 percent of Fallbrook voters disapprove of the tax, it would force a public vote, Denke said. The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission will also have to have a separate hearing to approve the tax.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

 

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