The Modesto City Council has put forward a reasonable resolution to the long disagreement over Mello-Roos taxes in Village I: Ask the property owners the people paying the bills whether they want their money to go toward a pool at Enochs High School.
If the property owners say yes, spend the money on a pool, then the city can back away from this issue. If property owners say no, then that doesn't mean that there won't be a pool at Enochs, only that it shouldn't be paid for with Mello-Roos taxes. This idea for a mail ballot vote of these property owners is a much better way to gauge the accurate sentiment of taxpayers than was the meeting held in August at Enochs High.
That amounted to little more than a pep rally stacked with teen athletes and their parents and coaches. It is no surprise that the swimmers and water polo players said they want a pool on their campus, because it is inconvenient to have to go to another pool school for practices and games or meets.
But wants and needs are not the same thing, a fact of life that adults have been reminded of in this hard economy and that high school students will have to learn soon enough.
So far, a majority of the Modesto school board members are subscribing to the administration's argument that every dime that the district spent at Enochs High was justified. Staff simply rejects the analysis done by an outside and impartial legal firm, which concluded that Village I property owners have been overburdened with taxes and that Modesto and Sylvan did not abide by a 1994 mitigation agreement.
Modesto City Councilman Dave Cogdill Jr. has taken that legal analysis very seriously, as have other council members. They've hinted at a lawsuit if the school board doesn't do something to at least acknowledge the excessive tax burden.
We urge school board members to give this proposal from city leaders serious consideration. It's not just a way to avoid a lawsuit but it's the appropriate way to respond to the residents in your community who have paid a lot for Modesto to have some very attractive high school campuses.