On June 28, 2019, City Council adopted Resolution No. 086-19 and Resolution No. 087-19 approving and adopting the Public Works Director’s Report for the Consolidated Maintenance District and the fiscal year 2019-20 budget confirming park landscaping and street and median landscaping assessments and authorizing collection of the assessments by the Kern County Auditor-Controller’s Office. Inadvertently, assessment data for 17,865 parcels was not transferred correctly to the Kern County Auditor-Controller’s Office for fiscal year 2019-20, which resulted in assessments totaling approximately $1,109,455 not being billed on the fiscal year 2019-20 tax rolls. Staff has verified missing assessments for these parcels, which ranged from $50 to $60 per parcel for the fiscal year. Upon confirmation of the billing error, staff immediately sought corrective action, as these assessments provide necessary funding for maintenance of certain streetscapes, medians and parks throughout the City.
The Kern County Tax Collector’s Office allows agencies to bill assessments on the tax roll in the subsequent fiscal year in instances such as this with a process called escape billing. The process requires City Council approval of a resolution to establish a new fund to place the assessments on the tax roll, authorizing the County to bill the 17,865 parcels for the assessments on the fiscal year 2020-21 tax roll. This action is one time in nature to correct the billing error. Impacted parcels will see two similar assessments on their property tax bill for next fiscal year only, with the assessment returning to the normal annual amount in fiscal year 2021-22. The affected property owners' tax bill will include a description of the assessment and the telephone number of Public Works to contact if they need additional information.
Moving forward, staff has established new methods to simplify the billing process of special assessments as to eliminate this issue from occurring in the future.