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Airport growth bolsters MUSD ability to build more schools

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POSTED September 23, 2017 1:21 a.m.

Some of the biggest investments in the financial future of the Manteca Unified could be coming where most people would least expect it — growth around Stockton Metro Airport.
The completion of the Sperry-Arch Road connection between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 is credited in part with Amazon’s decision last month to build a 600,000-square-foot distribution center in South Stockton near the airport. The center will create 1,000 jobs.
Stockton’s massive industrial area is north, west, and south of Stockton Metro Airport. Much of it — including the largest areas yet to be developed — is within the boundaries of the Manteca Unified School District. That means as Stockton continues to lure big employers to the area, the Manteca Unified tax base will benefit.
Three of the district’s 20 largest secured property taxpayers  — a Prologis distribution center Dollar Tree distribution center, and Trader Joe’s distribution center — are near the airport. The three represent $114 million worth of property valuation.
While Lathrop’s industrial base is more muscular and will continue to grow, the ultimate development potential pales compared to the City of Stockton industrially zoned land within the school district boundaries.
That bodes well for the district when they go to sell bonds as it helps balance residential properties that account for 69.9 percent of the district’s $12.54 billion in assessed property valuation.
It also means future bonds will be spread across more large taxpayers softening the impact on homeowners.
Manteca Unified encompasses 8.69 percent of the City of Stockton’s $20.3 billion of assessed property valuation or $1.76 billion. While that includes Weston Ranch neighborhoods, the industrial around the airport is nearly half that amount.
Manteca Unified will be by far the biggest benefactor in terms of school district’s if San Joaquin County’s plan for a business park on county property at the airport takes off. Almost all of it is the Manteca Unified School District.
MUSD will also benefit for county industrial development when it occurs east of the airport and Highway 99. That’s because the school district east of Highway 99 goes as far north as Arch Road between the freeway and Austin Road.
The potential value of future development around the airport is why the district in the early 1990s declined a proposal by Stockton Unified to absorb the Weston Ranch neighborhood before development started. The proposal had the condition attached that MUSD would also cede the industrial area around the airport.
Not only does the school district benefit from having more assessment to leverage bonds, but it also receives growth fees up front when new business park development occurs. That means new distribution centers built around the airport in the coming years will help fund renovation of Manteca High as well as contributed to the cost of building new campuses and facilities to house elementary students south of the 120 Bypass  — some 10 miles away — as well as in Lathrop.
Lathrop with 32 percent of Manteca’s population has 37 percent of Manteca’s property valuation due to its strong industrial base. Lathrop’s overall assessed valuation of $2.45 billion accounts for 19.61 percent of the MUSD total. Manteca at $6.51 billion accounts for 51.93 percent of the school district property valuation.
Seven of the 20 largest property taxpayers that account for 8.94 percent of the district’s total secured assessed valuation are in Lathrop.
That includes the No.1 taxpayer — Tesla Motors at $150 million. The next largest taxpayer with property valued at $98.2 million is Delicato Family Vineyards with their winery in rural San Joaquin County north of Manteca.
While the tax base helps when it comes to bonds it doesn’t make much of a difference for school operations any longer given how the state has redistributed property taxes.
District Superintendent Jason Messer has noted when it comes to school construction, specifically development fees, business parks are golden as they don’t directly generate the need to educate students.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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