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Mayor Cantu wants new tax explored
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Manteca’s elected leaders want to look at possibly using community facilities districts to augment funding for police and fire services.

Mayor Ben Cantu — with the concurrence of the rest of the council — succeeded at having a discussion of the possible formation of a CFD for public safety on the Sept. 17 agenda.

It follows up on Cantu’s campaign promise to look for new revenue sources to help fund additional municipal services that he noted people have told him repeatedly they would like to see.

A CFD — or a Mello-Roos district — is already employed by Manteca Unified for financing new construction to accommodate student growth. The city initially put landscape maintenance districts — a less robust version of CFDs — in place for subdivisions approved after 1998. A few years back, the city started requiring new developments being processed for approval to have CFDs in place to cover neighborhood park maintenance as well as neighborhood street light operation and maintenance costs.

There are three ways a CFD for public safety could be put in place. One is to require a CFD for public safety funding for all new development. Another is to put a blanket CFD in place for all development — existing and what is built in the future — to generate additional funds for police and fire services.

The other is adding it to an existing CFD. The city, though, can’t automatically add services to be covered to a CFD once it is formed. It would require a two thirds vote of impacted homeowners to add additional services that would in return require an even higher CFD tax per home. You cannot add additional services to a landscape maintenance district even on a vote of the property owners involved.

 Having a CFD requirement on new developments is virtually a slam dunk. The city council conditions a map that requires a CFD to be put in place for common landscaping, street lights, and neighborhood park maintenance.  For a CFD to be imposed, a majority of impacted property owners need to agree. The city requires the CFD to be in place prior to the issuance of building permits. Given the developers hold ownership of all the lots created, it is essentially a done deal.

That said, the City Council has no legal authority to mandate that a developer join a CFD to build public schools under state law.

A citywide CFD would require a majority of all existing property owners in Manteca to approve it.

Under the Mello-Roos law, the CFD rate cannot be based on the value of property such as how general property taxes are assessed.

Most CFDs are based on the square footage of improvements — buildings such as houses. It can also be based on proximity to a specific improvement or based on the square footage of parcels.

CFDs can be imposed to pay for electricity, infrastructure, schools, parks, police protection, streets, water, sewage and drainage. They can also have automatic annual increases built in.

This is not the first time the idea of a CFD for police and fire services has been floated in Manteca.

Back at meeting in March of 2014 regarding the 274-lot Pillsbury Estates Meritage Homes was pursuing west of the Hat Mansion, then City Manager Karen McLaughlin suggested that the council add fire and police services to new CFDs that were formed. The idea was dead on arrival as it was dismissed outright by elected leaders. 

The idea was presented five years ago by staff that had been tasked with devising of an ongoing municipal strategy to reduce the general fund burden paying for the additional cost of serving residential growth.

Buyers of homes directly from the builder or down the road in the resale market are made aware of the existence of CFD taxes and other tax obligations in their escrow documents.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email