The record flood of 1986 exposed numerous deficiencies in the flood control system protecting Sacramento area floodplains along the lower American and Sacramento Rivers and their tributaries. Since that time, over $2 billion in flood control improvements have been made to the system. Currently, there are $4.4 billion in authorized Federal projects under construction, with about $2.6 billion left to complete. When completed, will provide much of the Sacramento area with approximately 300-year level of flood protection.
The majority of funding for the construction of Sacramento area flood control projects comes from the Federal and State governments. In most cases, the local community is required to pay about 10.5% of a project’s costs. In other words, local residents are responsible for paying about ten cents for every dollar that is invested in improving the flood control system.
As the local project sponsor, SAFCA pays this share on behalf of the residents that benefit from the flood control improvements. Since SAFCA does not receive general tax revenues, it raises the local share through property assessments. The costs for ongoing maintenance of flood control facilities is also provided through property assessments.
There are two types of property assessments administered by SAFCA:
- Operations and Maintenance (O&M) – Provides funding for ongoing maintenance of existing flood control facilities and the Agency’s planning and engineering activities. There is one SAFCA O&M assessment: Operation and Maintenance District No. 1.
- Benefit Assessment Districts – Formed to raise the capital required to construct new flood control projects. Benefit assessment districts are in place for a fixed number of years and can only be formed by the approval of affected property owners, usually through a mail balloting process. There are two SAFCA benefit assessment districts that are currently active: Natomas Basin Local Assessment District and Consolidated Capital Assessment District No. 2.
O&M and benefit assessment districts appear as a direct levy on annual Sacramento County Property Tax bills.
Benefit Assessment Districts
Properties located in areas that benefit from a flood control project are assessed on an annual basis for a fixed number of years in order to fund the local share of any flood project that is cost shared with the State or federal government. The local share is usually 10.5% of the total project cost. Property owners are only subject to the assessment if the flood control project funded “benefits” their property. For example, if a property is located in the Pocket area of Sacramento, an owner would only be assessed for project(s) that help protect that specific area from flooding.
For this reason, benefit assessment districts are divided into “Benefit Zones”. A benefit zone is determined by the potential source(s) of flooding in any given area. Using the State Capitol Building as an example, in a catastrophic flood event the property would be subject to flooding from both the American River and Sacramento River. Therefore, the property is subject to assessments that fund levee improvements along both of these rivers and Folsom Dam. This particular SAFCA benefit zone is referred to as American River/Sacramento River (AR/SR).
There are two SAFCA benefit assessment districts that are currently active: Natomas Basin Local Assessment District (NBLAD) and Consolidated Capital Assessment District No. 2 (CCAD 2). The NBLAD includes only those properties located in the Natomas Basin, whereas CCAD 2 includes all properties located within Sacramento’s major floodplains.
Since the Natomas Basin Local Assessment District only includes Natomas properties, its benefit zone is confined to the Natomas Basin floodplain. The Consolidated Capital Assessment District No. 2 (CCAD 2), includes all of the Sacramento area floodplains, including Natomas. The CCAD 2 benefit zones are as follows:
- Natomas Basin (NB): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River, Sacramento River, Natomas East Main Drain Canal and Natomas Cross Canal
- North Sacramento (NS): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from Arcade Creek, Dry/Robla Creek, Magpie Creek Diversion Canal and Natomas East Main Drain Canal
- American River (AR): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River
- American River/North Sacramento (AR/NS): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River, Arcade Creek, Dry/Robla Creek, Magpie Creek Diversion Canal and Natomas East Main Drain Canal
- American River/Sacramento River (AR/SR): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River and Sacramento River
- American River/Sacramento River/South Sacramento Streams Group (AR/SR/SSSG): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River, Sacramento River and Morrison Creek and its tributaries
- American River/South Sacramento Streams Group (AR/SSSG): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from the American River and Morrison Creek and its tributaries
- South Sacramento Streams Group (SSSG): Properties in this benefit zone are subject to flooding from Morrison Creek and its tributaries
How Benefit Assessments Are Calculated
All properties located in a benefit assessment district are subject to the SAFCA assessment, whether they are privately or publicly-owned, residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural. Property owners are only assessed for the cost of flood control projects that benefit their property. The amount of the annual assessment collected from properties located in each project benefit zone is calculated to be sufficient to cover the local share of the cost of the improvements protecting that zone and the system operation and maintenance costs associated with those improvements.
The assessment rate for each parcel is then calculated by dividing the amount of annual revenue required to support the flood control projects by the total relative flood damage reduction benefits the parcel receives from the improvements. In order to determine the appropriate flood damage reduction benefit for each property, the assessment formula considers; potential depth of flooding the property in the event of a levee failure, acreage size of the parcel and total square footage of any existing buildings.
SAFCA’s assessment engineer uses this information to formulate Building Rates and Parcel Rates to determine the assessment for each property.
Consolidated Capital Assessment District No. 2 (CCAD 2)
CCAD 2 was formed in 2016 and will be in effect for 30 years. The assessment contributes toward the following flood control projects that, when completed, will provide a minimum 200-year level of flood protection and potentially well beyond that figure:
- Folsom Dam Improvements
- American River Levee Improvements
- Sacramento River Levee Improvements
- Natomas Basin Levee Improvements
- South Sacramento Streams Group Improvements
- North Sacramento Streams Improvements
- Levee Modernization
Property owners are only assessed for those projects that protect their property from flooding.
Natomas Basin Local Assessment District (NBLAD)
NBLAD was formed in 2011 and will be in effect for 40 years. The assessment funds the first phase of levee improvements in the Natomas Basin, which consists of approximately 18 miles of levee improvements along the Natomas Cross Canal and Sacramento River East Levee. The remaining 24 miles of levee improvements required for 200+ year level of flood protection is funded through CCAD 2.
Operation and Maintenance District No. 1 (O&M)
The O&M assessment was established in 1991 and has no termination date. The assessment funds the ongoing maintenance of existing flood control facilities and SAFCA’s planning and engineering activities. The O&M district includes properties within the 100-year flood plain as well as those outside the floodplain that benefit from or are served by public infrastructure located within the floodplain.