Economy Halted But Tax Bills Ramble On

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

May 10, 2020

The Coronavirus has pretty much shutdown the local economy but taxes march along unabated.

County Supervisors recently approved setting a hearing date for July 7 to consider a Resolution that would put delinquent special taxes and fees onto the property tax roles, a policy that’s been done for many years to collect charges due the County for things life fire protection, weed abatement and sewer service.

If the Supervisors agree, delinquent charges would be placed on the fiscal year 2020-21 (which starts July 1) tax roles, where they can’t be avoided without risking the loss of private property.

The County Tax Collector has the authority to seize and sell property for non-payment of taxes, which is why the County attaches unpaid bills to property tax bills, upping the risk for non-payment.

According to the County staff report, customers in Lake Nacimiento’s Oak Shores neighborhood, County Service Area 7-A, where the County runs the sewer system, the residents owe $282,000 in unpaid fees, the most by far of any of the four areas with delinquencies.

Supplemental sewer charge went into effect in February, according to Kristi Smith, an accountant in the Public Works Department. She said the figure could ultimately be much less, as property owners in Oak Shores are still catching up with the new bills, and not all will still be delinquent by the time the hearing comes around in July.

CSA-10, the County’s water system in Cayucos has $1,200 worth of delinquencies for weed abatement, and the Los Osos Service Area — Monarch Grove Subdivision owes $1,900. This service area is the communitywide sewer system.

And property owners in CSA-1 in Nipomo have $1,200 in delinquencies for sewer service.

In Cayucos the delinquencies for weed abatement are tied at the hip with the dismantling of the local fire department.

In November 2018, CSA-10 assumed responsibility for fire protection services in all of Cayucos, taking over from the Cayucos Fire District that was disbanded at the behest of the district board. This came after voters rejected a huge hike in the annual fire district fees.

The hike would have raised the district’s revenues enough to pay for a full time, fully-staffed fire department. When that vote failed, the district was left with little choice but to disband and ask the County Fire Department to take over.

County Fire is under contract with Cal Fire, so the new firefighters in Cayucos work for Cal Fire, which has already done weed abatements for those who didn’t do it themselves.

The County will send out delinquency notices a few weeks before the July 7 vote and any property owners who pay their bills before that, will be taken off the list.

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