As a special California district, DEID is subject to the requirements of Article XIIID of the California Constitution, approved by the voters in 1996 as Proposition 218. Effective November of 1996, the law requires any special district, including DEID, to have an affirmative vote before it may increase an assessment on real property. The District has two charges affected by this aspect of Proposition 218, a standby charge and an assessment.
The District Board of Directors has adopted annual budgets since 1996 that have not increased either of such charges. Both charges remain at their pre-1996 rates:
- $15.40 per acre for Property Assessments
- $26.75 per acre for the Standby Charge
Both are collected annually in two separate installments. The first installment is due no later than December 20th, with the second installment due no later than June 20th.
Under Proposition 218, fees such as water rates and lift charges can be increased by following a specified notice and hearing process, provided a majority of all affected landowners do not file a written protest. Unlike assessments, water rates and lift charges may be changed without a majority affirmative vote.
Income from the Property Assessments is a function of two factors: the assessed value of lands located in the District, and the assessment rate. An increase in one or both of these factors increases total income received from assessments. However, as previously discussed, the Board has not changed this calculation to increase assessment income since 1993, when the Property Assessment was set at $15.40 an acre.
The Property Assessment is used to partially fund non-water related expenses (overhead and other administrative expenses) that are incurred by the District no matter how much water is delivered.
Prior to the passage of the Central Valley Improvement Act (CVPIA) in 1992, the District set its water rates at an amount that would recover the projected total expenses for purchasing water for that year. Facing an exorbitant increase in its cost of water due to CVPIA–mandated environmental charges, the Board took a step in 1994 to ensure that its historical practice could continue. It did so by assessing a per acre standby charge on all lands in the District, with the revenue generated from that charge used primarily for funding the aforementioned CVPIA environmental charges. This was designed to keep costs of water under the District’s contract with the Bureau funded through water rates paid by District water users, while the Bureau’s charges for environmental impacts were separately funded through the per-acre standby charge levied on all lands within the District.