Standby Charges (Murrieta)

Availability (or Standby) Charges – Murrieta Service Area:

Resolution 2921 Murrieta Availability Charges 2015 - 2016
 Resolution 2962
FY 16-17 Property Listing – Water
FY 16-17 Property Listing – Sewer

Western Municipal Water District collects on the property tax roll a water and sewer availability charge, also referred to as a standby charge. The availability charges are assessed annually on every parcel within the Murrieta service area. Western has continued this practice from the former Murrieta County Water District (MCWD), which was merged with Western by LAFCO in 2005.The funds derived from the charges are used for system operating and maintenance expenses. Since all properties benefit from a maintained water and sewer system, both connected and unconnected properties are assessed.

Water and Sewer Availability Charge (or Standby Charge) Background:
Availability charges are considered to be assessments under Proposition 218, the right to vote on taxes act. An assessment means any levy upon real property for a special benefit conferred upon the real property. No assessment may be imposed on a parcel that exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel.

What properties are subject to the Availability Charges in Western’s service area?
Western assesses the water and sewer availability charge on every parcel within the Murrieta service area. Assessing the availability charges on all parcels promotes cost sharing between existing customers and unconnected property owners. It adheres to the standard of cost-causation where Western as the utility has incurred significant capital investment and ongoing maintenance costs in order to provide service to both existing and potential future customers.

How much are the Availability Charges?
The water availability charge and the sewer availability charge is $21 per acre or $21 per parcel if the parcel is less than one acre for each water and sewer. The amounts of the assessments have remained the same since fiscal year 2002-03.

Who Authorizes the Availability Charge?
The availability charges must be authorized each year by Western’s Board for collection on the county property tax bills and are subject to public notice and hearing requirements. The public hearing is typically held in July.

When will the Availability Charges end?
There is no fixed end date to the availability charges unlike the charges assessed for the payment of a bond which will eventually be paid off. As long as it continues to be authorized each year, the availability charges will be assessed every year.

Can a property be exempt from the Availability Charges?
Western does not have a provision for exempting the availability charges because of the philosophy that all parcels derive some level of benefit from having water and sewer facilities properly maintained and available in the service area.