PERHAPS YOU'VE PLAYED THIS GAME BEFORE? BUT TODAY YOU'RE BARELY SURVIVING.
There you are. You’re on a brisk walk with the kids. You notice a speeding Beamer zooming toward your youngest. Your toddler. She's about to cross the road. You think, “hey, we need a cross-walk here” catching her bolt just in time. People need to know we live here right? It so happens the other day you also saw another group of older kids crossing in this Frogger-like game during rush hour (not cool). You’re fired up now. You want in the game. You know what’s needed, but you don’t know how to work the system. In this case, did you know the Ranch District can be an advocate for residents to El Paso County for pedestrian safety enhancements? Hi, I’m back again with another hyper-local focus on Falcon’s fastest-growing Meridian Ranch neighborhood. In my last post of this good-neighbor brain-builder series, I covered HOAs and the Service District, what they do and don’t do. Here, I’ll dig deeper into what the “Ranch” District is about (and how they can help your toddler).
THE RANCH DISTRICT IS THE FINANCIER FOR SERVICE, MAINTENANCE AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
That’s right. The Ranch District plans and pays for service. And they also annually plan and finance major improvements for Meridian Ranch homeowners. New trails, new pools, new wells, you name it. If the Service District maintains it, the Ranch District funds it. For these reasons the Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District is colloquially referred to as the “Financing District” looking at their registered Service Plan. In the big picture, the Ranch District collects cash it needs to serve residents from residents by three mechanisms:
- Levying a 25 mil tax (never to exceed 50 mils)
- Collecting monthly service fees from residents
- Issuing bonds for long-term capital improvements
Easy stuff right? So now you can think of the Ranch District as a money funnel. Into it goes all three cash flows above. And that pays for service, like a private HOA. The 25 mil levy is calculated from a resident’s assessed El Paso county property taxes. Lost there? That's okay. Just remember this special district has the power to tax, and they take a chunk from the overall county tax. Cash is also collected through each resident’s monthly Service District bill. Fees for water resources, wells, street lighting, park/rec/open space, sewage and water pay for the Service District costs to operate and expand infrastructure. If you need an example of these fees, find them by clicking here. Finally, when the elected Ranch District Board of Directors sees fit, the district may issue bonds for long term financing for larger improvement projects. Simply said, they can incur debt.
WAIT, YOU JUST SAID “BOARD OF DIRECTORS” …
Yes, it’s the two Districts and their combined Board of Directors that do all the planning and decisions for this gig. Don't worry, these guys are all Meridian Ranch homeowners also. The larger body of homeowners elect five unpaid directors for staggered four-year terms to conduct the executive activities over the Meridian District and Service Districts. Check out my diagram below. These aren't separate boards. They're one. Like Angie Kelly of Community Resource Services explains, "the conversations aren't really separate, it's all one meeting, one district." Take a peek. The minutes say just that.
SO IT'S THIS TWO-DISTRICT EXECUTIVE WHOLENESS THAT HELPS RESIDENTS IN MANY WAYS
And this goes back to accessing power (and advocating for your toddler and others). True, both the Service and Ranch District entities don't have authority over Meridian Ranch roads and building new crosswalks. El Paso County does. But this Board over the two Districts does have clout. And they do work alongside with the county on many projects. For instance, building a water line to the Falcon Regional Park. Here, collaboration is ripe and ready to be harnessed at the open monthly public meetings each month. Check their schedule out here.
Okay, let's call this a wrap! (or a "croak" if you're now wining at Frogger). Congratulations. You're now crossing over into the big leagues of Meridian mojo. With all the talk about the Ranch Financing District, you may ask how this funding is calculated? Or you may be confused with the support like the YMCA, the and how they fit into my picture describing this game below. Hang loose there. That will be the subject of my next posts.