At its meeting last night, the Hi-Desert Water District Board of Directors received a preliminary estimate for four options for property tax assessments facing property owners in the three phases of the proposed sewer project. The board will also be faced with the decision of using a contractor who can build the sewer system in two years, or taking on the project itself for less money over five years. Managing editor Tami Roleff was at the meeting and files this report…


Scenarios 1 and 3 are outsourcing the construction to a contractor who can build the project in two years, with grants totaling 10 percent of the cost (Scenario 1), and 5 percent of the cost (Scenario 3). Scenarios 2 and 4 are if Hi-Desert Water District builds the project in five years, with 10 percent and five percent grants, respectively. The interest rate for a state loan for all scenarios is 1.5 percent. The assessments would be lower if the water district qualifies for a .5 percent interest rate.

Depending on several factors, such as whether the Phase 1 property owner has developed or undeveloped land, how much grant money the district receives, and whether the water district hires a contractor to build the sewer in two years or does it itself in five years, the one-time Phase 1 assessment for a single family home could range from about $13,700 to $17,400, with multiple family residences and mobile homes paying less (Multi-family homes would pay .72 of the amount; mobile homes, .60. Commercial properties would be assessed based on the water usage over a year). The cost could be even lower if the water district decides to build the sewer project itself. Director Dan Munsey wasn’t sure the lower cost, and longer construction timetable, would be worth it. “The time and liability of doing the work in house has got to prove to be a greater benefit than the cost savings…. I’d almost be willing to pay a couple more dollars to get it done and move onto the next stage.” Property owners in Phases 2 and 3 would be assessed between $3,800 and $4,600 (with calculations for multi-family homes, mobile homes, and commercial properties), with a second assessment coming when the sewer project begins in their phase, set for 2019 for Phase 2, and 2022 for Phase 3. The assessments could go lower, as the estimates were calculated using an interest rate of 1 ½ percent, while the board is still hopeful it can get a ½ percent interest rate. These numbers do not include the property owner’s estimated cost of $2000 to connect their residence to the sewer in the street. But first residents must approve a ballot measure, set for late this summer, to establish the assessment districts and tax themselves for the sewer project.



  • Vicki Chamberlain Parsons

    Where exactly are the phases 1, 2 and 3 ?

  • Rick De Luna

    It looks to me like costs have already increased 25-70 plus percent from the original $10K estimates. My guess would be they increase substantially again before construction begins; and yet again before construction ends. Now we have the task to vote ourselves a tax to pay for something that most of us don’t want. Government at its very finest.

  • Ken Sawade

    … and what happens when the ballot measure to establish the assessment districts and the tax does not pass?

  • Ralph George

    So the Hi-Desert Water District wants me to approve a ballot measure establishing an assessment district that (assuming I am a property owner in Phase 1) assesses me $17,404, will cost me $2,000 to connect to the system and then charge me $36 a month for service (per protectgroundwater.org). I’m thinking they can count my NO vote now.

  • Tami Roleff

    A “NO” vote will mean 2 things: 1) A second (and third, and fourth and …) election will be held, as the Water District HAS to receive enough votes to form assessment districts for the project; 2) Your costs WILL go up, as the District has to have the assessment districts in place by a certain date in order to receive the low-interest loans from the State. A “YES” vote will mean the assessment districts will be in place in time to get a 1 1/2, or perhaps even a 1/2 percent, interest rate on the loan. A “NO” vote will NOT mean that the sewer project will be forgotten about. The State is MANDATING that residents stop using septic tanks. Homeowners who do NOT stop using a septic by May 16, 2016, will be fined $5,000 PER DAY by the state, which is why the Water District is proceeding with the sewer project.

  • Susan Keeps

    My understanding is that Phases 2 and 3 may NEVER have to connect. That is not fair to residents and business in Phase 1 to have to cover the burden. Many of the Hi Desert Water Company’s employees and Board of Directors reside in Phase 2 and 3. Phase 1 has MANY of the low income and elderly. Phases 2 and 3 have the higher income residents. Let’s go ahead and make Yucca Valley a ghost town!

  • Ralph George

    Anyone who has paid attention to the information concerning this project is aware that the project is necessary and a state agency has MANDATED the cessation of septic tank use in this area by 2016. I get all of that. However, simply because the project is necessary and we must stop the use of septic tanks doesn’t mean the current cost proposal is acceptable. The current fugures are too expensive for the homeowner. THEY SIMPLY HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THIS! Can anyone honestly say the $17,404 plus a $2,000 connection fee is reasonable? The answer is no and if anyone thinks the voters will approve a tax assessment district with these outrageous figures, then they are oblivious to the voter’s sensitivity to tax increases. I am not saying we don’t need this project. I am just saying that as proposed the costs are too high for the homeowner. We need to do a better job of getting the costs down.

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