The street lights are going out in Crescent Mills. That was the final decision of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting April 3. The Crescent Mills Lighting District cannot make up its yearly $2,100 deficit and pay its debts, so the board of supervisors, also the governing board for the lighting district, had to shut the street lights off.
The decision came as the result of the November 2017 election. The lighting district sought to receive a special parcel tax from the constituents within the lighting district. The tax increase would have been less than $4 a month, however, the proposed tax increase failed on the ballot.
“That is a cup of coffee,” said District 4 Supervisor Lori Simpson, expressing her disappointment in the failed measure.
The Crescent Mills Lighting District is a special district that generates its revenue directly from taxpayers, and does not operate through the general budget of the county. The district entails a dependent board, which means though it is legally separate from the county, the board of supervisors acts as the overseeing board.
County Engineer Bob Perreault serves as the general manager of the district and presented the lighting dilemma to the board.
After the tax increase failed, the district was left with few options. Since its inception, the district has never had an increase of revenue, but the cost of operation has continued to increase. There are 18 streetlights in the township, and only 110 taxable parcels to fund the lights.
“Having such a small number of taxable parcels results in an inability to sustain [the district] at its current revenue without plunging deeper into debt,” Perreault wrote in his statement to the board.
The lack of revenue, and restrictions and loan constraints left the district with the singular option of shutting off the lights to use the existing revenues to pay off the district’s debt. There is a possibility of the lights returning partially, after the debts are repaid, but that depends on the revenue stream.
“It is the people who ultimately made a vote to not have additional tax revenue and it is their decision that is driving this decision,” said Perreault.
One light at a county road and Highway 70/89 intersection may stay on because the public works department has requested it fall under Caltrans District 2 responsibility. However, everything else will go dark.
“So everyone can get a spotlight on their house if they want lights,” said Simpson. She also warned against a similar fate that may occur within the Quincy Lighting District, as there was a tax proposal that failed in that district as well.