FALLBROOK – Fallbrook Public Utility District has been providing water and sewer service in Fallbrook for nearly 100 years. Now, thanks to a unanimous vote by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission, the process is moving forward for the district to be able to provide additional community services under the umbrella of parks and recreation services, streets and street lighting.
The program would be funded through the reallocation of $546,000 in existing property tax revenue that is provided to FPUD.
LAFCO is the government watchdog agency tasked with studying the merits of “smart growth” requests and overseeing changes in services for special districts, and then approving or denying them.
But first, before any of this can move forward, a public hearing has been set for May 31 at 10 a.m. at district headquarters, 990 E. Mission Road. During this hearing, FPUD customers can voice praise or protest the expansion of FPUD’s powers.
For this to continue moving forward, there is first a protest process that takes place to allow ratepayers to voice opposition. The opposition from FPUD ratepayers must be less than 25%.
If opposition is between 25% and 50%, there will be an election to decide the issue. If opposition exceeds 50%, the move dies. Written protests must be filed with LAFCO before the conclusion of the protest hearing. Protest forms are available at https://www.sdlafco.org/meetings/current-notices.
If the process is successful, the district must also complete a separate public rate-setting process by January 2023 in order for the program to be established. [Protest forms should be mailed to San Diego LAFCO, Attn: Tamaron Luckett, Commission Clerk, 2550 Fifth Avenue, Suite 725, San Diego, CA 92103.
At the April board of directors meeting, the board voted to establish an ad hoc committee to develop the draft administrative requirements and framework for the program, with input from the community. Directors Don McDougal and Ken Endter comprise the committee.
Back in 2018, several community groups and nonprofit organizations approached FPUD and asked for help taking care of the physical environment of Fallbrook, including things like the Mission Road medians, the flower pots downtown on Main Ave., graffiti clean-up, and implementing enhancements such as lighting and improvements to sidewalks.
They included Fallbrook Village Association, the chief of North County Fire, Chamber of Commerce, Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, Fallbrook Land Conservancy, Fallbrook Village Association, Fallbrook Trails Council, Save Our Forests, Fallbrook Historical Society, Fallbrook Sports Park, Fallbrook Arts Inc., and several business owners and individual members of the community.
They explored a number of options including asking the county for creation of a similar program, and then learned that the county would require about 25% off the top for administration of the program. Using FPUD allows for local control of the money and all the committee members would be local and appointed by the FPUD board.
The goal of the program is to maximize the use of community volunteers to organize the programs to be funded and minimize the administrative cost. The community groups determined that the best approach was to ask the board of directors to consider activating its latent power of parks and recreation and redirect $546,000 of existing property tax to fund the program.
The FPUD board voted to submit an application to LAFCO. The application was sent in December 2019.
Submitted by Fallbrook Public Utility District.