The seven men seeking to replace Brad Mitzelfelt as 1st District supervisor for San Bernardino County during the June 5 primary are mixed on what, if anything, they'd do about how much property tax revenue comes back to Hesperians in the form of city services.
"I'd love to have more property tax from the county," said Russ Blewett, who serves as mayor for Hesperia and is running for supervisor. "But the fact of the matter is, we already get higher than the average when you count all of the districts in."
The city of Hesperia's general fund gets back 1.59 percent of property taxes paid while Adelanto gets 1.75 percent back, with the rest sent to the coffers of San Bernardino County or spread out among other government agencies. In comparison, Apple Valley gets 9.44 percent, Barstow gets 9.04 percent and Victorville gets back 16.04 percent.
"I can say, without a doubt, I would be in favor of bringing some equality to that problem, because it's not consistent at all," challenger Bob Smith said.
But when the property tax revenue given to other city agencies is factored back in, Hesperia comes out ahead. The Hesperia Fire District gets 15.35 percent of residents' property tax and the Hesperia Recreation and Park District gets 4.32 percent, for a total of 21.26 percent compared to a county average of 20.69 percent.
"They've been talking about that in Hesperia for years and I don't know why that hasn't been resolved yet," Rick Roelle said. "Obviously, that needs to be fair across the board."
"My gut reaction is that it needs to be the same across the board," candidate Bret Henry agreed.
"I don't know the full details," challenger Robert Lovingood said, but "we should be able to create an even playing field for all municipalities."
Candidate Jermaine Wright agreed it should be balanced, but indicated that issue won't be a major priority.
"Am I going to make a big stink about it? No," Wright said. "If (cities) have a big problem with how things are run, they should come to us."
The property tax rate paid to municipalities is set by the county's Local Agency Formation Commission at the time the city or town is incorporated, based on what the county spent on the area for services the newly formed city would be assuming responsibility for.
Candidate Michael Orme is skeptical about the potential for changing that system.
"Why would anyone from down the hill agree to change it?" Orme asked. "Why would they want to change it?"
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.