Supervisors set hearing for street lighting district tax
By Joe Naiman
San Diego County supervisors are not expected to raise taxes on property in the county’s street lighting district when they hold a hearing to set the rate for properties in Zone A on July 25.
The current tax is $6.48 per benefit unit, or single-family home. The supervisors, who also serve as the board of the San Diego County Street Lighting District, set the hearing date on June 20, when they approved the engineer’s report for the district.
The County Department of Public Works, which operates the street lighting district, has a policy of slight annual increases to keep pace with energy costs. Stabilized energy, labor and material costs have allowed the rate to remain unchanged since 2008, the county reported.
“We’re keeping our costs down,” said Michele Stress, DPW program coordinator for special districts. “We figure we don’t have to do any increase. The biggest part of our budget is SDG&E bills, so we watch them. We’re keeping everything else pretty much in check.”
High copper costs in 2008 led to a proliferation of copper thefts and higher replacement costs to replace stolen copper, said Stress.
“Copper theft for a while was getting pretty serious,” she said. “That seems to have gone down quite a bit.”
The San Diego County Street Lighting District was formed in September 1987. It includes all unincorporated San Diego County. Zone A covers parcels that benefit from streetlights in the district, with Zone B encompassing the rest of the district.
The district operates 10,161 lights. Of those, 6,502 are owned by the county and 3,666 by SDG&E, but the county district pays the electricity costs. Zone A includes 568 streetlights in Ramona, 459 owned by the county and 109 owned by SDG&E.
Zone A covers more than 100,000 benefit units and 200,000 customers. In 1987, voters approved an tax of up to $25 per year per benefit unit, with a single-family home being one benefit unit, although in 1990 the fee was reduced from $23 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 resulted in an increase 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.
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