Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am writing in response to the recent decision on the Manteca Unified School District Board to allocate $2.9 million to the upgrading of the Weston Ranch High School stadium. It is not my intent at this time to take a stand for or against the upgrading of the stadium. Rather, my comments are directed on the decision to use Mello-Roos funds for such a purpose.
As a lifelong advocate for the taxpayers, I view the decision by the Board to be ill-conceived and quite possibly a violation of the law. The Weston Ranch Mello-Roos (also referred to as CFD 1989-1) was established in 1989 and in the resolution authorizing the tax, it spells out what purpose the tax money generated can be used for. The resolution states the tax generated is allowed to be used only for the following facilities, “Three elementary schools sufficient to mitigate student impacts, a portion of a high school sufficient to mitigate student impacts generated from within CFD 1989-1.”
The Weston Ranch Mello-Roos was established to build new facilities to “mitigate” the impact to MUSD of all the new students who moved into Weston Ranch. Upgrading an existing stadium does nothing to “mitigate” student impacts on MUSD. Government code 53330 states very clearly that, “only the public facilities and services as described in the resolution of formation may be financed by the district.”
It has also been stated that the Weston Ranch Mello-Roos has surplus funds that are going to be used for this project. The same resolution spells out very clearly that every year the school board is to determine the cost of the debt that was used to build the new schools plus the cost of administering CFD 1989-1 divide it by the number of houses in Weston Ranch and that is what the tax for each house will be. If this process was followed, there would be no way that there would be “surplus funds” in which to build school board member’s “pet projects.” Every year, the school board would only collect enough money to pay for the specific purpose of the tax. No more.
If there are surplus funds, the school board has an obligation to use it to either pay down the debt, or refund it to those who truly own it, the taxpayers.
The school board needs to rethink their decision on how to use the taxpayer’s money contained in CFD 1989-1 and ensure that they are completely following the spirit and intent of the law when it comes to their fiduciary responsibility. If they decide to continue down this ill-conceived course, Prop 218 gives the taxpayers a very simple tool to fix the problem of elected officials who go beyond the limits. Less than 200 signatures are all that is needed to get a resolution on the ballot to reduce or eliminate this tax altogether.