Leonardo Castañeda | <em>inewsource</em>
Homeowners in San Diego County paid almost $1 billion in Mello-Roos taxes during the past five years. Even so, we know surprisingly little about how the taxes are charged or used.
The cities, school districts and assorted other government agencies that have these special taxes possess documents that can shed light on how each Mello-Roos district works. Documents list how properties should be taxed, how the money is supposed to be spent and — if you’re a homeowner — where the money has gone.
inewsource is exploring these issues. But with 246 Mello-Roos districts in the county, we need your help with a crowdsourcing effort.
Help us request documents from the nearly 30 government agencies with Mello-Roos taxes so we can shed light on how you’re taxed and how your money is spent.
We’ll verify the information and make it public on the Mello-Roos map inewsource created.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Find a district
Go to our interactive Mello-Roos map and search your address. There, you’ll see the Mello-Roos district — or districts — you pay into, as well as contact information for the government agency managing them.
If you don’t live in a Mello-Roos district, don’t worry. You can still help. Go to our list of active Mello-Roos districts in the county and pick one you think sounds interesting. We’ll also update that list once someone submits the documents for that district.
2. What to ask for
You’ll need two different documents to help answer these important questions. Anyone, whether you live in that Mello-Roos district or not, can request these.
Rate and Method of Apportionment: This document explains how a Mello-Roos tax is levied — by square foot, type of housing or even by number of bedrooms. It’ll also list the base tax amount when the Mello-Roos district was created, as well as how long the tax will last.
Resolution of Formation: This document tells you what the money should be used for — parks or schools or street lights. It’ll also explain how those things will be paid for, either in cash, through bonds or a combination of the two.
If the government agency asks you for a California public records request, you can use this template to create one.
Once you’ve received the documents, if you have a Google account then upload them through this form, and let us know how it goes. Make sure to include an email so we can contact you about updates on this project. You can also email the files directly to us.
Then, go out there and get more documents. There are hundreds of Mello-Roos districts, help us understand them all.
If you have any questions, concerns or ideas, email the reporter directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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