If you live in a County CSA, you’re paying for services you may not be getting.
San Benito County has 27 County Service Areas (CSA). If you live in one of the following CSAs, the County has contracted with each CSA to preform maintenance of landscaping, lighting, signage and streets. There is a line item on your property tax bill: A CSA assessment–not a tax, that goes to pay for these services. Combined, the CSAs provide over $1Million each year to the County.
Ashford Highlands, Ausaymas Estates, Barnes Lane, Bonnie View, Cielo Vista, Comstock, Dry Creek, Dunneville Estates, Heatherwood, Hillcrest El Toro, Holiday Estates, Lemmon Acres, Long Acres, McClosky Acres, Monte Bello, Oak Creek, Pacheco Creek Estates, Quail Hollow, Rancho San Joaquin, Ridgemark, Riverview Estates, Santa Ana Acres, Santa Rosa Acres, Springwood, Stonegate, Torrano Estates, Union Heights, Vineyard Estates. The CSAs of Oak Creek and Quail Hollow had a meeting with the County several months ago because requested maintenance was not getting done, and had not been done for several months. In that meeting, the County said they only have staffing to address “life-safety” issues. There are street signs that have been missing from two intersections for months. That is definitely a life-safety issue as emergency services will waste valuable time trying to find an address.
The question that still lingers is, where does all our money go? Most of the CSAs have been around for over 10 years. That’s over $10Million dollars paid to the County!
The county’s archaic purchasing process requires that any service performed by a contractor have a contract in place. That means a $500 street light repair gets bogged down in needless paperwork. Contractors don’t want to bid on small jobs because it’s too much hassle for them. A simple purchase order process would speed repairs up and get better response from potential contractors!. Currently, the process to get something fixed takes months and often the work is not done right the first time. Perhaps the CSAs would be better served by taking their money and doing their own contracting.
The 2015-2016 CSA budget, available on the County website (www.cosb.us), shows a line item for “salaries & benefits” for a total of $141,000. If there’s a budgeted line item for staffing and the CSAs provide those funds, why doesn’t the County have 1 or 2 full-time positions to handle the day-to-day operation of the CSAs? While some of the work would be administrative (dealing with contractors, etc), a large part of it (basic sprinkler and lighting repair as well as light landscaping) could be handled by a general maintenance position. Two $20/hour full-time positions could easily be funded.
Some CSAs are not aware they pay the County for services and have self-assessed themselves for maintenance. I believe the County owes each CSA a complete audit of their funds going back at least 5 years, 10 years would be better. There should be plenty of money in each CSA account to fund all required routine as well as major maintenance work. The Ridgemark CSA believes the county should have over $500,000 in the Ridgemark CSA account yet no one knows where it is.
If you want to know why your neighborhood is not receiving the services you pay for, please attend the county board meetings every other Tuesday in the County Administration building at 481 Fourth St. and fill out a public speaker card. Let the board (those who you elected to represent you) know you’re not happy with where your money is going and what you’re getting for it. Your property value is affected by this lack of maintenance.
Better yet, contact your bounty board of supervisors member.
Guest view by Tony Weir