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By Will Fritz
Associate Editor 

FPUD board votes to move forward with Community Benefit Program


Last updated 11/14/2019 at 7:05pm

The Fallbrook Public Utility District Board of Directors voted Friday to move forward with a proposal to form a Community Benefit Program that would promote, coordinate and oversee funding for community projects in town.

Because Fallbrook is unincorporated, local nonprofit organizations are currently responsible for many local projects and facilities.

The nonprofit Fallbrook 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 fee of roughly $5 a month to pay for the services that volunteers are struggling to continue carrying out.

FPUD was chosen to administer the program because its charter allows expansion of latent powers to form a community benefit program which is subject to approval by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission.

The proposed Community Benefit Program fee would raise about $500,000 annually, an amount that Dave Baxter, FPUD director of subdistrict 1, said was reached after accounting for current maintenance and future capital improvement projects.

“$5 came out of a half million dollars divided by the number of ratepayers (in FPUD’s jurisdiction),” Baxter said.

That amount, basically a fee increase for FPUD ratepayers, wouldn’t go directly to the Community Benefit Program, but it would offset the loss of property tax dollars used by FPUD that would go to administering the program rather than paying for utility services, FPUD general counsel Paula de Sousa Mills said.

About a couple dozen Fallbrook residents showed up to FPUD’s meeting to advocate for and against the proposed tax.

“From a business owner’s perspective and for a person who has lived in Fallbrook now since 1992, when I first moved here I had no idea how anything was maintained,” Kim Murphy, a Fallbrook Realtor, said. “I just loved it. It was beautiful it was a great place to live, and then as I got involved more and more myself, I realized that it is all being taken care of by volunteers.

“Those of us who own homes, you want a town that looks wonderful. You want a town that is graffiti-free. And we do not have the arm, because we aren’t a city, to be able to take care of that,” Murphy said.

Another Fallbrook resident Kirk Doolin expressed concern that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors might cut back on its funding for Fallbrook if it comes up with a way to pay for some things locally.

“I just really would like to know what anybody has done concerning talking with the supervisors of the county because my guess is very little,” he said. “My following concern to that is if this is approved, those assets that they currently have been distributed, however small or however infrequent or irregular are gonna go away eventually over time completely because they’re gonna say hey, you guys are funding it completely 100%.”

The board of directors ultimately voted unanimously to pass the proposal along to LAFCO and begin a protest process – if more than 25% of Fallbrook voters disapprove of the tax, it would force a public vote, Denke said. The San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission will have a separate hearing to approve the creation of the Community Benefit Program.


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