WHEN: 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 13
WHERE: Board of supervisors chambers, 1010 Tenth St., Modesto, basement
A group of veterans who sought to create a special memorial district in Stanislaus County that could use property tax assessments to support former soldiers withdrew its request Friday, March 9.
In a letter addressed to the county, veterans Richard Edgecomb, Larry Johnson and Frank Machado indicated they are no longer interested in supporting a ballot measure to form a veterans district, just three days after the county board of supervisors voted 3-2 to allow the measure to be placed on the June ballot.
Instead, they are requesting that the board of supervisors form a Stanislaus County Veterans Commission that would advocate on behalf of veterans and help with the coordination and possible consolidation of veterans’ services.
“We are hereby requesting that the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors withdraw our request to form a Veterans Memorial District,” the letter stated. “We understand that the formation of such District (sic) will be a tremendous financial burden on the citizens of Stanislaus County at this time.”
The board of supervisors will reconvene Tuesday, March 13, to decide whether to rescind their approval of the ballot measure and to direct county staff to help local veterans achieve their goals. The veterans’ letter was written after they met privately with county officials and learned about the costs that the county would bear because of the district, according to a staff report by Stanislaus County CEO Monica Nino.
Under state law, Veterans Memorial Districts can collect up to three-tenths of one cent on each dollar of assessed property evaluation to pay for facilities such as memorial buildings, parks and recreational facilities. About 25 such veterans districts exist throughout California, with the most recent district being formed more than 60 years ago, proponents say.
The ballot measure would have only created the special district and established its board members, as a property tax measure would require a two-thirds majority. However, Clerk Recorder Lee Lundrigan estimated that it would cost between $56,250 and $225,000 just to put the proposition on the June ballot, though she thought it would likely be on the lower end. The reason for the large discrepancy in costs was that it was still unclear how many pages would be on the sample ballot and whether the initiative would cause there to be a second ballot card.
In addition, the World War II-era code that governs such districts requires the county to hold elections during odd years to elect district board members, tacking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra expenses in future years.
Edgecomb has said from the get-go that his main goal is to create a main gathering place and service center in Modesto for veterans as well as smaller centers in the county’s outlying cities, including Patterson. He also hopes to create a museum with military paraphernalia from throughout the area.