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Manteca shifts park costs to homeowners

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POSTED March 2, 2014 11:45 p.m.

Landscape maintenance districts are passé.

The new trend in Manteca is for community facilities districts (CFD).

A CDF is essentially a landscaping maintenance district on steroids.

Instead of having each homeowner pay for just an equal share toward the cost of maintaining common landscaping, sound walls and streetscapes, the CFD also passes on the cost of all neighborhood park maintenance and street lights. The move shifts such costs away from the city’s general fund and onto the backs of new development.

The City Council on Tuesday will deal with three new CDFs involving new neighborhoods either under construction of breaking ground south of Woodward Avenue.

One is for the certification of the election authorizing the formation of the Pillsbury Estates CFD involving 274 homes being built by Meritage Homes just to the west of the Hat Mansion at the end of Pillsbury Road. The cost per home will be $320 for the fiscal 2014-15 year.

Buyers of new homes, though, will have a zero tax bill for 2014-15 since Meritrage Homes has agreed to pick up 100 percent of the upkeep costs until such time improvements are completed and accepted by the city.

That will avoid a repeat of the Union Ranch situation  where home buyers were assessed a landscape maintenance district fee for up to three years before a neighborhood park was built.

The election in which all owners in the proposed district received one vote per lot took place prior to home sales. That meant Meritage Homes cast all 274 votes. If the election failed, the city could not issue building permits for homes due to a development agreement Meritage Homes signed. The agreement requires a CDF to be in place before homes close escrow. That essentially assured that the CFD election would be a success.

The council will also call for two additional public hearings for CDF elections on April 15. One is for the 536-lot Oleander Estates being built southwest of Main Street and Woodward Avenue. The special tax for the 2014-15 fiscal years would be $184 per lot.

The other is for th3 93-lot Blossom Grove Estates being built southeast of Union Road and Woodward Avenue. The initial year calls for a $672 special tax per home.

Sales contracts and mortgage documents make note of all special district taxes.

The more homes that the costs are spread over especially when it comes to the big ticket item of park maintenance the lower the tax.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center.

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