MAD may have extra reserves

Carmel Valley has a bit of MAD money to spend.

The local Maintenance Assessment District, also known as MAD, expected to have $998,000 in reserves at the end of June. Now it looks as if it could return about $1.3 million to its reserve fund.

The savings are attributed to cutting water costs. The district is watering its landscaping less. It also budgeted for planting and tree trimming that were not needed.

Through the MAD, property owners can assess themselves to pay and receive services above and beyond what the city provides. The Carmel Valley MAD takes care of about 4.91 acres of landscaped medians as well as paved medians, slopes and mini parks.

With the extra reserves, the board is now looking at improvement projects in Carmel Valley.

Board member Ken Farinsky said he’d love to fix the Del Mar Heights median. He said it looks “awful.” But member Ginny Barnes and Chairman Dave McIntyre would like to look into installing new “smart” irrigation technology in Carmel Valley.

“I’d rather see our energies go to doing something like that than landscaping,” McIntyre said.

“Cost savings should be our emphasis and focus,” Barnes agreed. “We want to get more bang for our buck.”

Fixing Carmel Creek

One project the MAD discussed completing is the Carmel Creek Road median, which McIntyre called one of the “ugliest” areas of Carmel Valley.

The price of fixing the median has jumped since December, when the district approved $110,000 for it to be allocated in its 2010 budget. Due to higher overhead and contingency costs, the project now carries a potential price tag of $142,782.

Costs include design, utilities, landscaping, construction and traffic control measures during the work.

Joe Henderson, of the city’s parks and recreation department, said it’s not an official estimate but he believes that to be the cost the city’s engineering and capital project department will deliver them.

“We’re going to be quite a bit short,” Henderson said.

To make up for the shortcoming, the board voted to approve $160,000 toward the Carmel Creek median project - it will have to go before the City Council to add more money to its capital improvement project budget.

McIntyre was anxious to know when the project could possibly get done.

Henderson said he could not say.

Farinsky offered that it could take anywhere from eight months to three years.