CATHEDRAL CITY – During the 2018 campaign season, then-Councilmember Mark Carnevale called for an end to what he said was an “unfair” fee assessed residents who live in the Century and Panorama park areas.

Carnevale, who was handily re-elected and is now mayor, wrote in an Opinion piece for Uken Report that residents voted on and approved the assessment to keep Century Park and Panorama Park maintained. Century Park homeowners pay close to $270 a year due to the size of their neighborhood (599 homes), he said.

Panorama Park residents pay less because there are more than 2,300 homes in that area.

The assessments came at a time Parks and Recreation Department was closed in 2003 and Cathedral City was “struggling,” Carnevale wrote in teh opinion piece.

There is no sunset clause on the assessments meaning they could go on indefinitely.

Now it is decision time. Will the assessment fee be lifted?

Many residents want the assessment removed. They argue that they are unfairly shouldering the burden for upkeep of the parks that benefit the entire city.

Some of them will be front and center at the City Council’s Study Session on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The Study Session is held in the City Council Chambers of City Hall. It begins at 4:30 p.m.

Normally no action is taken on Study Session items, however, the City Council reserves the right to give specific policy direction and take specific action as necessary.

Currently, 50 percent of park expenses are considered to be of general benefit and are therefore paid for by the general fund.

The question the City Council will consider is whether the areas of Century Park and Panorama Park should be modified to exclude the maintenance of the respective parks.

In the event the City Council eliminates the assessment fee for the two areas, city’s General Fund would shoulder the increased costs of maintaining Century and Panorama Parks . That would be approximately $162,500 to $200,000 annually, according to Tami Scott, Administrative Services Director.

The city of Cathedral City annually levies and collects special assessments in order to provide and maintain improvements within the Street Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District. The City Council created the District in August 2001 by Resolution, according to Scott.  The District was originally formed with four benefit zones and now has a total of 16 benefit zones including the areas of Century and Panorama park neighborhoods.

The assessments are based on the city’s estimated cost to maintain the improvements that provide a special benefit to properties assessed within the District, according to a report Scott prepared for the City Council. The improvements in each of the Zones of the District include the operation, maintenance, rehabilitation and servicing of landscaping, lighting and appurtenant facilities including but not limited to, the cost of personnel, electrical energy, water service, materials, equipment, contracting services, and other items necessary for the satisfactory operation of these services.