Sam Fant held his ground Tuesday on behalf of his Weston Ranch community.
By that, the Manteca Unified school board member wanted to make sure that those he represents from this southwest area of Stockton wouldn’t be stuck paying even more in Mello-Roos, which is property tax under the Community Facilities Act.
Weston Ranch, according to Fant and former school board member Dale Fritchen, was already being heavily taxed in this Community Facilities District than in any other CFD in MUSD.
Trustees were looking at a special tax levy for each of the CFDs as outlined within the voter-approved “Rate and Method” – also stated as: “MUSD shall annually determine the need to levy the special tax apply that amount to the properties within the CFD based on the prioritization listed in the Rate and Method” – for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
The components of this special tax consisted of Debt Service of Special Tax Bonds, in which CFDs must pay investors that have purchased bonds in semi-annual payments, and Pay-as-you-go Projects.
The latter was an alternative to selling bonds that the CFD can collect and accumulate under special taxes to fund authorized projects costs.
But paying more in taxes was the last thing Weston Ranch needed. Fant, for one, wasn’t leaving anything to chance. “I don’t want to be in a position to undo a mistake,” he said.
Fritchen, meanwhile, recalled being the board president at the time when staff was pushing for various construction projects in Weston Ranch. The high school was nearing completion, as was George Komure Elementary School.
He indicated that due in part to “misinformation from staff” his area of Weston Ranch, based on board approval, agreed to put more in Mello-Roos.
Fritchen and others are now trying to undo this mistake by circulating a petition for the purpose of reducing and ending the CFD in Weston Ranch.
The petition on the statement said that his area, under the original Resolution of Formation, have all been constructed and the district has reached its total bonding capacity.
At the same time, Fritchen noted that MUSD found other ways to spend Weston Ranch Mello-Roos. “It’s paid for this building,” he said of the three-story, 50,000-square-foot Administration office built in 2008.
Fritchen, however, appeared more upset about Komure, which was all but completed in 2003. “It was a leased property yet we were still paying Mello-Roos on something that was already built,” he said.
The other related construction projects in Weston Ranch that followed were the 10 portable classrooms at Weston Ranch High along with the construction of New Vision – the alternative high school of the MUSD was also known as Phase III of the Weston Ranch High project –and the library.
Fritchen and his group have collected close to 500 signatures and are looking for more for this petition, which, in moving forward, could call for a special election.
Fant, with the support of his colleague Nancy Teicheira, was able to lower the Weston Ranch Mello-Roos to about $180 per home for next year.
Superintendent Jason Messer noted that a CFD reserve – about $600,000 – will cover Weston Ranch’s share of the COP debt, as approved unanimously by the board.
Fant, in addition, had the “Pay-as-you-go Projects” taken out from his motion on the special tax levy.
“MUSD is finally listening to us out here in Weston Ranch,” said Fritchen in his Weston Ranch Open Forum Facebook post.
He added: “A big thanks goes to Sam Fant for fighting so hard for us… it looked like it was going in the wrong direction at one point but he didn’t let it die.”
For Fant, this was “a small victory.”
There’s still more work ahead, he said.