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The Madera Tribune

A few choice words for school board

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webmaster | 09/18/13

I read the article in Thursday’s Tribune entitled “MUSD lowers developer fees” and wish to take exception with several statements made by school board members.

First of all, for those board members who feel they have not heaped enough punishment on the developers, as stated by Ray Seibert when he said, “The developers need to come in and help. They have never helped.” Let me remind you that the developers you disdain so much have always paid what has been charged by the school district. Those fees are then passed on to the home buyers and renters in the form of higher home prices and higher rents.

How does that help Madera? By making homes less affordable? By decreasing disposable income of renters that they could otherwise use to purchase goods and services without having to increase rents to offset additional costs of developer fees?

Homeowners and landowners pay property taxes, a part of which is returned to the schools. The more homes, apartments and commercial buildings the higher the tax base, henceforth, more money for the schools.

What additional help would you like from the developers, Mr. Seibert? We, as developers, supported your last bond measure, and what did that bring to the community? Higher developer fees that are then passed on to home buyers and renters, many of whom are barely able to afford a place to live now.

We are not the ones who bring people to Madera who enroll their children in the local schools. The people coming to Madera are certainly not here for the abundance of high paying factory jobs.

No, a substantial amount of them are here for the farm labor jobs, or they are forced to work in Fresno to earn enough to support their families while living in Madera for the lower housing costs. These folks help pick your crops and work your fields.

It is high time that people like you, who sanctimoniously point fingers at others, help by doing your fair share. What do you intend to do to help Mr. Seibert?

The taxpayers of Madera County have been subsidizing farmers for years though the exaction of MID taxes to help keep your water costs low that you irrigate your crops with, when in fact the benefits currently received by the city are negligible, even though you may try to argue that our aquifers are being recharged by MID. You may also argue that increased water costs for farmers would cause higher food prices, however, would that not be offset by lower housing and rent prices?

Fresno has an aggressive program of recharging the underground water supply by diverting water from FID into Fresno’s drainage ponds, which has helped to recharge their aquifer, but that hasn’t happened in Madera yet.

We need a new high school? Whose decision was it to locate South campus so close to North campus. Would it have not made more sense to locate a new high school on the East side of Madera, thereby serving the needs of the community and saving untold hundreds of thousands of dollars for the taxpayers in transportation costs?

Isn’t it interesting that the best school districts charge the least amounts of developer fees, as evidenced by the list of school districts and fees that they charge developers (which are ultimately passed on to home buyers and renters) that was published with the Tribune article.

Isn’t it also interesting that the Madera Unified School District closed down two perfectly good schools so that they could say that they were impacted. Reopen those schools, Mr. Seibert, so that your consultant’s numbers are truthful.

And speaking of consultants; if a developer is required to provide an environmental impact study or other study to justify a project, government will not let us hire our own consultants to provide that study. Government tells us that they will hire the consultant because they feel that the results will be tainted if we are allowed to direct the consultant. The same should apply to government.

When a School Facility Needs Analysis, or other study is needed, why should the school district be allowed to hire its own consultant? Won’t the study be tainted because the consultant knows what the school wants in advance of performing the study? How about letting the developers hire the consultant with the school district paying for it? Would that not insure that the study is not then tainted because the consultant would not know the answer to the question in advance of providing the study?

Trustee Salvador, do you think that the developers in this community will support future bond efforts as we have in the past with money and leg work, when they know that the outcome will be statements like those made by Trustee Seibert and higher school fees that will translate into less home sales and higher rents?

Time to wake up board members. Stop bickering among yourselves and start running the school district like a business, because it is a business; the largest business in the community. You owe it to Madera to run that business as efficiently as possible and stop wasting resources.

Michael Pistoresi,


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