Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am writing in response to the article in your paper on August 11 with the headline, “Manteca, Lathrop pay more”. The article accurately described a school board meeting this month where trustee Deborah Romero implied that the residents of Weston Ranch should not be complaining about how much we pay in Mello-Roos taxes because there are many areas in MUSD that pay more than us. I want to emphatically state that this issue is not about if anyone pays more, it is about if the school district is illegally charging for unauthorized facilities.
Romero used my address as an example and stated that this house in Weston Ranch only pays $593 while other houses in other areas in MUSD pay more. If the issue is only about the amount paid, then Romero should probably step back out of the debate. A quick check of her property tax records shows that for her address she pays exactly $0 for Mello-Roos. Yes, that’s right, zip, zero, none. It is pretty egotistical for someone who pays nothing to criticize those who pay, in her words, “only $593”.
But like I stated earlier, this is not about how much is paid but about if it is being used illegally. The Mello-Roos law states very clearly that taxes raised can be used only for facilities authorized by the voters in the resolution of formation. The Weston Ranch resolution states very clearly that the taxes raised can be used only for “three elementary schools and part of a high school” and goes on further to state that the district can only borrow $30 million for these facilities. What happened? According to district documents, the school district borrowed $42 million and used the extra money for a library, the school farm, East Union stadium, a continuation school, and millions for the new district office to name a few.
Of the $30 million limit, according to the article, Romero said, “it was extremely conservative and didn’t allow the flexibility that district administrators would have needed to grow with the expanding community.” Romero needs to study up on the law here. It was written specifically to protect the taxpayers from government bureaucrats that want “the flexibility” to spend our tax dollars how they want and not how we, the owners of the money, tell them to. If you want more… you need to come back to the voters.
I hope the voters pay close attention here if every the school district comes to you asking for more $$$ and promising to only spend it on certain projects. Fool me once, shame on you.
Finally, regarding a proposal to stop this illegal money grab, Romero is quoted in the article, “And if you’re for this, you’re tantamount to taking money out of children’s pockets and saying that you aren’t worth as much as other kids have been.” This statement is ridiculous on its face. Is not the overcharging of taxes and illegally using the money for unauthorized projects exactly that? Taking money out of the pockets of the children in Weston Ranch and saying you aren’t worth as much as other kids?
And in regards to Romero’s angst that the people of Weston Ranch have the gall to rise up and complain about this obvious injustice. It reminds me of a similar situation from history when the peasants complained to the very unpopular queen of no bread to eat, and with no regard to her subjects suffering the queen responded arrogantly... “Let them eat cake.”