A group of Weston Ranch residents are planning on taking their issue with the way that the Manteca Unified School District has spent the Mello-Roos tax funds to the voters.
On Monday former Manteca Unified Trustee Dale Fritchen filed a notice with the district to circulate a petition amongst the registered voters of Weston Ranch to call for a Proposition 218 election that if approved would drastically overhaul the way in which Mello-Roos money collected by the district can be used and would set a concrete expiration of the assessment that doesn’t currently exist.
According to Fritchen, who is organizing a group called Committee for a Fair Taxation, it will take 100 signatures to qualify for the ballot and he doesn’t see a reason why it couldn’t be distributed to voters in time for November’s General Election.
Paperwork that was filed at the district office on Monday outlines a clear and specific set of issues that the group is taking with the community facilities district fees that homeowners have been paying for since the first homes in the South Stockton subdivision were built in 1991, among which notes the fact that all of the facilities that were called for in the originally approved bond measure have been built.
The group is calling for a sunset clause to be added – which would curtail the collection of Mello-Roos fees once the bond is paid off – and specifically address the personnel costs associated with the fund that are included in the annual summary. It would also include a provision that would prevent the district from authorizing any additional debt through certificates of participation or other bonds that could negatively affect the debt structure.
Fritchen was the one who first discovered what he believes to be are yet unexplained expenditures from the fund that was approved by voters only to fund school construction and necessary upgrades in Weston Ranch. When researching the original documents in an attempt to prove to the board that spending the money on a new football surface and track at Weston Ranch High School was not in conjunction with what homeowners initially approved by the parcel owners.
And the amount of money that Fritchen is alleging was taken from Weston Ranch property owners and used elsewhere – by using add-ons to the original Mello-Roos agreement and then putting that money that was being funded by homeowners to build things elsewhere that didn’t impact them – isn’t small.
In just one project, Fritchen claims that he discovered that Manteca Unified took more than $10 million from Weston Ranch to help build the district’s administrative complex on Louise Avenue, and that the same methods were used by staff even during his tenure on the school board. Some of those items he even voted for.
The matter will be center stage next week when the Board of Education will be hosting a board study session on communities facilities districts in order to get input from the community on what they’d like to see. The session will be held on Tuesday, June 21, at 5:30 p.m. in rooms 202 and 203 at the district office complex, located at 2271 W. Louise Avenue.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.