SAN DIEGO - Unless you're paying it, chances are you don't know a lot about a tax called Mello-Roos. It's an odd sounding name for what has become a growing revenue source for developers, school districts and cities in San Diego County.
Named after two legislators, Henry Mello and Mike Roos, the extra tax on property can range from as little as an extra dollar a year to nearly $100,000. The average is $1,826.
According to an analysis by inewsource, the amount collected in Mello-Roos taxes has grown in San Diego County from $106 million in 2004 to $195 million in 2012 -- an 80 percent increase.
The tax was created in 1982, as a way around Proposition 13, to generate revenue for basic infrastructure needs in new neighborhoods, especially schools.
The amount must be disclosed when you buy a house, and it’s reflected on your property tax bill.
Homeowners in Mello-Roos districts pay widely varying amounts from neighborhood to neighborhood, even homeowner to homeowner.
inewsource collected data from about 100,000 county properties paying the tax and created an interactive map detailing Mello-Roos payments house by house.
Under Proposition 13, property tax increases are restricted and new local taxes are subject to a two-thirds vote of the people. But Mello-Roos allows landowners, usually developers, do an end-run around the public vote and partner with school districts or cities to form Community Facilities Districts (CFD), that can levy taxes. This usually happens with only the developer's approval because in most cases the land in the CFD is not developed, and there are no registered voters. Once the homeowners move into the newly developed neighborhoods, they are subject to the new tax for decades.
You can find out whether you pay Mello-Roos and whether your neighbor pays more or less by clicking on the image below. Be patient, the search function takes about 45 seconds to find a specific address.