Q1. What is the Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area Assessment?
The Assessment is a means of providing a funding source to pay for the ongoing operation and maintenance costs associated with the public street lights within the boundaries of the County Lighting Service Area. There has been no other funding source to pay for these street lighting services.
Q2. Why were the street lighting improvements installed?
The street lighting improvements that are located within the County Lighting Service Area have been installed throughout the years at the request of the property owners who are located near those street lights.
Q3. What does my Assessment pay for?
The annual assessment pays for the operation and maintenance costs associated with the street lighting. These services include, but are not limited to, the repair, removal or replacement of poles, fixtures, bulbs, conduits, guys, anchors, posts, pedestals, metering devices and other related improvements. The Assessment also pays for the costs for furnishing the electric current for illuminating the street lights.
Q4. Is this a new assessment?
No, the County of Santa Clara has funded these street lighting improvements through the use of Assessments since 1964, except for Fiscal Year 1999-2000, in which the vote failed. Each parcel within the district has been assessed annually to cover the costs of operation and maintenance of the street lighting system.
Q5. Is my Assessment changing?
Yes. If approved, your Assessment for street lighting within the County Lighting Service Area will change. Your proposed Assessment rate is shown on the Ballot. There are two (2) reasons for the Assessment rate change to your parcel;
1) The method for calculating the assessments had to be modified because of the recent passage of Proposition 218 which requires assessments to be levied based upon the benefit to the property. In prior years the method for assessing properties was based upon a flat assessment rate for residential properties and a flat assessment rate plus an ad-valorem assessment rate (assessment based upon the value of the property) for non-residential properties (e.g. commercial, industrial, etc.). In November of 1996, California voters approved Proposition 218 which requires the formula to be in proportion to the special benefit each parcel receives. Therefore, the old method is no longer valid. An explanation of how the assessment formula is applied is described in the enclosed “Notice of Hearing”.
2) In previous years there was excess money in the street lighting reserve fund that was used to help reduce the annual assessments. This fund has now been depleted; the costs are now being assessed to the properties within the District.
Q6. Why do the assessment rates vary among benefit zones?
Through numerous community meetings held throughout the County, it has been found that some people are in support of the County Lighting Service Area Assessment, while others are not. The County has decided to establish thirteen (13) separate and distinct benefit zones within the District. Each benefit zone will have an individual budget based on the number of street lights within that benefit zone. The budget is then spread to the parcels based on the level of service they receive from the street lights. The rates for each level of service vary depending on the number of street lights. Level of Service No. 1 consists of all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection and cul-de-sac street lighting only. Level of Service No. 2 includes all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection, cul-de-sac and mid-block (street light spaced approximately 300 to 500 ft. apart along a street) street lighting. Level of Service No. 3 includes all parcels that receive special benefit from intersection, cul-de-sac, mid-block and mid-mid block (street light spaced less than 300 ft. apart along a street) street lighting.
Q7. Can the Assessments increase in future years?
If additional street lighting is installed within their area it may result in an increase in their annual assessment. This is because they may receive a higher level of service (e.g. moving from Level 1 service to Level 2 service). Except for the situation above, the proposed assessments may only be adjusted in subsequent years without a vote in a percentage not to exceed the change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area or three percent (3%), whichever is lower. The assessment amount may not be increased above these levels in future years unless a new balloting procedure is held and the increased assessment is not opposed by a majority of the ballots.
Q8. How do we pay the Assessment?
All properties would pay the assessments annually as a line item on your property tax bill.
Q9. Is there a public forum to debate lighting district assessments?
You have received along with this information a notice in the mail of the Public Hearing which is on June 27, 2000, to provide an opportunity for any interested person to be heard. You may register your support or opposition to the Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area Assessment by submitting the enclosed “Ballot” to the County prior to the conclusion of the Public Hearing.
Q10. What happens if there is not a majority protest against the Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area Assessment in any benefit zone?
The sole source of revenue for public street lighting in Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area has been from assessments and the street lighting program would continue in the future within each benefit zone that supports the assessment.
Q11. What happens if a majority of the ballots oppose the Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area Assessment in any benefit zone?
If the assessment for operation and maintenance is not approved by the District voters in any benefit zone, the Board of Supervisors cannot levy the County Lighting Service Area Assessment for Fiscal Year 2000-2001 to fund the street lights within that zone. Without a funding source, the street lighting service will be eliminated in that benefit zone.
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The sole source of revenue for public street lighting in Santa Clara County Lighting Service Area has been from assessments and the street lighting program would continue in the future within