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The Chowchilla Water District operates under the rules as set forth by the California State Water Code, water districts are given the right to assess land (not buildings) within their district boundaries to cover costs associated with the maintenance of canal systems.  Chowchilla Water District collects three types of assessments from property in the District. They are the General Assessment, which applies to all property in the District, Supplemental and Capital Repayment Assessment, which applies to all agricultural property larger than five acres.

General Assessment results in an assessment of $24 per acre for agricultural property and an average assessment of $37 (depending on the parcel size) for individual parcels in the City of Chowchilla. The District collects about $1.9 million dollars in assessments each year.  The assessment revenue is used to pay for water purchased for groundwater recharge and the operation and maintenance costs of the District.

Supplemental Assessment of $16 per acre for all agricultural property larger than five acres was instituted on April 29, 2005, following its approval by the landowners in an election held by the District (Prop 218 election).  The funds from the Supplemental Assessments are used to pay the fixed operating costs of the Central Valley Project that the District is responsible for each year.  The money is specifically earmarked to pay for the operating costs of Buchanan Dam, Madera Canal and Delta-Mendota Canal.   The District collects about $1.2 million dollars in supplemental assessments each year. 

Capital Repayment Assessment - In connection with the settlement of longstanding litigation relating to environmental restoration of the San Joaquin River, the District converted its “water service” contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation to “repayment” contracts.   Conversion had to occur by December 31, 2010.  The total amount of the capital assessment chargeable to the entire District is $18,800,000.
 
The amount required annually is $1,671,919.74.  The repayment obligation is 15 years in duration, the District made the first annual payment through the use of reserve funds.  Therefore, 14 annual payments remained, with the last payment due in 2025.
Public input to the District indicated that many District landowners preferred that the funds required to repay the amount financed in connection with the repayment contracts be raised with capital repayment assessments rather than through water rates. 
The Chowchilla Water District Board of Directors instituted a $22 per acre Capital Repayment Assessment on April 12, 2014, following its approval by the landowners in an election held by the District (Prop 218 election).
Capital Repayment Assessment of $22 per assessed acre applies to all agricultural land parcels of five acres or more eligible to receive water from the District. The capital repayment assessment will continue for a period of 14 years, or through 2025, or until such earlier date that the Board in its discretion deems that it is no longer necessary. 

 

The Distinction Between Taxes & Assessments

TAXES - are the exactions placed upon the citizens for the support of the government, the consideration of which is protection or public service by the state, whereas...

ASSESSMENTS - are imposed upon property within a limited area for the payment for local improvement supposed to enhance the value of all property within that area.