corcoran levee

The state of California, agricultural property/business owners and residential property owners in the Corcoran area are being asked to pay for the $10 million levee-raising project completed earlier this year. The project was designed to protect Corcoran from an anticipated lake bottom flood that never materialized.

CORCORAN — Corcoran property owners are one step closer to deciding if they are willing to foot the bill for the recently-raised levee that protects the city in the event of a flood.

The Cross Creek Flood Control District sent out ballots July 11 asking owners to decide on a $10 million funding plan that will put them on the hook for the levee-raising project completed earlier this year.

But first, in order for the vote to be recognized, an updated assessment roll had to be approved by the Kings County Board of Supervisors.

The board held its meeting Tuesday morning and voted unanimously to approve the updated assessment roll, which lists the individual values of properties in Corcoran, said Supervisor Craig Pedersen. The updated assessment was an effort to make sure each property is taxed the appropriate amount.

Pedersen said there were minor changes with respect to the land parcels owned by the state, on which sit two prisons in Corcoran, but said it did not change the scope of the funding proposal.

The proposal is to have the two state prisons in Corcoran, agricultural landowners/businesses and residential property owners pick up the tab.

The state is being asked to pay $5.5 million, agricultural property owners to pay $2.9 million and residential property owners to pay $1.6 million.

The flood-protection levee around Corcoran was raised because the Cross Creek Flood Control District board and others district officials, including manager Dustin Fuller, feared severe flooding would occur in the old Tulare Lake bottom.

However, the anticipated flooding never occurred. 

Because the district didn't have enough money to fund the project, contractors and sub-contractors were paid with IOUs.

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The property owners can vote "Yes" or "No" on the proposal, with votes being weighed according to the value of the property owned by the person or business casting the vote.

Out of the over 2,800 residential property owners in Corcoran, the average additional amount each owner might pay over the next three years is around $191 a year. The rates could be higher or lower, depending on which properties posed the most risk to being flooded, Pedersen said.

The bill would be tacked onto property tax bills, which are normally paid twice a year in separate payments.

If the state votes "No," the whole plan will die because the two state prison properties in Corcoran are valued at about $1 billion, which is more than half of the $1.9 billion assessed value for all property in the Corcoran area combined.

If the state doesn't cast a vote, then it will be up to the remaining property owners to decide whether the plan goes forward or not.

If the plan gets approved by property owners, the state would still have to pay $5.5 million and agricultural landowners would still have to pay $2.9 million.

Property owners have until Aug. 28 to cast their vote and can change their vote as many times as they want up until the deadline.

The ballots are to be tallied up Aug. 28 after a public hearing at 3 p.m. that day in Corcoran City Council chambers.

Fuller previously told the Sentinel that if the proposed assessment passes, the district will immediately seek a bank loan for the full amount so it can quickly pay off the IOUs.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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