Council approves lighting and landscape assessment
COMPTON—The City Council unanimously approved a resolution ordering its annual levy and collection assessments and charges within lighting and landscape assessment District 1 during its meeting on Tuesday, June 26.
The Council adopted a series of resolutions initiating proceedings, and preliminarily accepted the engineer’s report submitted by Willdan Financial Services on Tuesday, June 5. It spreads the assessments and charges out proportionately, based on the special benefits each property receives.
“The estimated assessment amount this year is $4.2 million,” interim Public Works Director John Strickland said.
Benjamin Holifield expressed outrage during public comments, and said residents should not pay a dime.
“Services declined even though the city gets $4 million every year,” he said. “We do not have a budget for flowers, and there is insufficient lighting throughout the city. We should get answers when we call, not some message saying they will get back to us. Lower the taxes so it matches the service.”
Lynn Boone said many residents do not understand the assessment.
“The assessment has to happen, and the city should collect more money because of its situation,” she said. “I am concerned that unused property presents an additional cost burden to residents.”
Strickland said the assessment lands on the property, not the people.
“No one will receive a tax increase by this action,” he said. “It is frontage based and in place since 1972.”
Proposition 13 homes (guaranteeing a one percent maximum ad valorem tax on real property) were Sheila Smith’s primary concern.
“This levy took place prior to proposition 13,” Strickland said .
Mayor Eric J. Perrodin said the city can use the money on items like landscaping, fountains, street lights and traffic signals, public restrooms, land purchase and improvements for public parks, and the annual report, categorized as an incidental expense.
“We contribute too much money for labor,” he said. “The district spends over $730,000 for salaries, $488,000 on benefits, and $40,000 for training. That comes to $1.2 million, 25 percent, of a $4 million assessment.”
The city needs improvement, Perrodin said, and the money should focus on its intended purpose.
“We do not have enough green spaces,” he said. “David Irons asks for restrooms at the parks every week, and he is right. This money pays for it.”
The city changed 6,000 lights, Perrodin said, but only 1,200 belong to Compton.
“I went out with the engineers, and they demonstrated different lights with varying wattages,” he said. “The lights are ineffective because the casings were too yellowed.”
The lighting project plan puts Southern California Edison in charge of maintenance, Perrodin said, so public works employees can take on other work.
“They will not take over the city’s 1,200 lights until our infrastructure is up to par,” he said. “We worked on changing all 6,000 lights, but because of personnel changes we never completed the project.”
Terminations occur, Perrodin said, but someone must take over and get the job done.
“This problem irks me,” he said. “There is jealous envy when people do projects. I will stand in the back when we smile for pictures. The work is for the residents, not us.”
Changing lights to the appropriate wattage remains an outstanding issue.
“We are still working with Edison,” Strickland said. “Some of the lights on the plan were changed and knocked down, so we have to re-inventory the whole system.”
The project now has two phases.
“Once we get Edison’s approval the contractor will complete and energize the lights we have by October,” Strickland said.
Perrodin said streetlights can be the difference between life and death.
“Call if you see a light out,” he said. “It makes a difference, seriously.”
Wiring is usually the problem, Perrodin said, when three lights in a row go dark.
“The bulbs last for 20 years, not one,” he said. “People steal cable wire on the 91 Freeway at the Interstate 710 exit, and that is why the lights go out. We contacted Edison, and they have a three-year waiting list.”
The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, July 17.