Serving the community since 1970

Shafter Wasco Irrigation District tax increases OKd

In September, all property owners in the Shafter Wasco Irrigation District received a ballot to vote on a Proposition 218 election to increase property assessments. The election closed Sept. 21, with 93,682,984 votes in favor and 14,366,630 votes against. There is a nuance with a Proposition 218 election, in that votes are weighted based upon the contribution to tax revenue. For example, if Person A pays $10 in SWID assessments and Person B pays $30 in SWID assessments, Person A would have 10 votes and person B would have 30 votes.

When it comes to setting the assessment each year, SWID does so within the bounds set by the preceding Proposition 218 election, which was in 2016. With the passage of the current election the per-acre rate will increase from $73.66 per acre to $123.66 per acre.

Taxes on municipal and industrial properties greater than a half-acre will increase from $162.77 to $259.06 per parcel, and municipal and industrial properties less than a half-acre will increase from $69.26 to $100.97 per parcel.

Concurrent with the property assessment election, there was also a Proposition 218 election to increase the water rate. Each water user was sent a protest form, and if a majority of the protest forms are returned, the water rate cannot be increased. Of the 785 forms sent out, the district only received 12 protests, so the new water rates were approved.

The district board will decide in January the actual 2023 rate, but the district is authorized to increase the agriculture water rate from $95 an acre foot to $130 an acre-foot. For ag parcels of less than 5 acres and for M&I water, the rate allowed will be $140/acre foot and Emergency water (formerly Supplemental) up to $400/acre foot. Additional increases are allowed each year through 2027. The last time an election was held for water rates was in 2012.

The board called for the property assessments to be increased to contribute funds toward repairing the Friant-Kern Canal, which has been heavily impacted by subsidence to the north. If the canal were to remain unfixed, it would lead to less surface water and lower groundwater levels within the district.

Today under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the importance of bringing in as much surface water supply as possible cannot be overstated. Lowered groundwater levels don’t just affect agriculture, but the cities of Shafter and Wasco and their residents as well. The ability of SWID to import water is of benefit to all residing in the district by positively impacting the depth to water.


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