Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mendocino County Grand Jury: Willits needs initiative to help pay for parks, pools

Ukiah Daily Journal Staff
Updated: 05/22/2010 12:00:32 AM PDT

The city of Willits should create a recreation district to more evenly distribute the cost of providing parks, fields and pools among the users of those facilities, the Mendocino County grand jury reported this month.

According to the GJ, Willits offers use of baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts, a skate park, swimming pool and the Recreation Grove and Bud Snyder parks to all, but only residents living within city limits (30 percent to 45 percent of users) contribute to the cost of providing these facilities.

The GJ notes that operating the swimming pool costs the city $35,278 a year, and park maintenance costs total $161,999 a year.

The city's current recreation budget includes: playground equipment, resurfacing the tennis courts, fencing, security, landscaping, irrigation, utilities, portable toilets, garbage collection, maintenance of tools and equipment, and vehicle usage.

The city's income for renting its building and grounds amounts to only $2,000, and the remaining costs for maintaining and improving the facilities are paid through the city's general fund.

To rectify this, the GJ recommends "a voter initiative to create a recreational district (to) allow the costs of operating the many facilities to be shared throughout the community."

The creation of the district would be a "collective effort by various agencies, including a recreational support group, to develop a recreation district with the direction of the Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO).

At a minimum, the GJ envisions the district including Brooktrails, Willits and "their spheres of influence."

The GJ also recommends "the community support group ... be responsible for writing the initiative for the November 2010 election," and estimates that the cost of forming such a district would be $25,000 to $30,000.

The GJ notes that the aforementioned community support group "came before the Willits City Council to pursue Prop. 84 funds to rebuild the city pool and to add other facilities."

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