HESPERIA A deal between the Victor Valley's largest school district and a Victorville neighborhood helping fund them is on hold.


At Monday night's meeting of the Hesperia Unified School Board, a deal approved by the board was called into question by residents of Empire Homes' Sundance development. The residents have been making Mello-Roos payments to the district averaging $2,000 annually. Under Prop. 218, residents are guaranteed a vote on fees affecting them, and they had presented the board with a ballot proposition that would allow them to vote the Mello-Roos fees up or down.


On May 7, instead of accepting or rejecting the ballot proposition, the school board approved an alternate deal, which would cut the Mello-Roos payments by 75 percent for five years.


Monday night, some residents called foul.


"All we're asking for is some basic fairness," resident Dennis Kennedy said.


The district had found itself caught between the proposition and contract law, officials said.


"We have contractual obligations tied to that tax," Superintendent Mark McKinney said Tuesday. "We're forced into this middle ground and we're negotiating with these property owners. ... We have not been able to reach a compromise."


So, instead, the board put the deal on hold, and the district will seek a writ of mandate from the courts to settle the matter.


"I'm certainly not supportive of taking a bunch of homeowners to court," McKinney said.


Mello-Roos is a 1982 law allowing builders to shift development impact costs (such as the impact of new residents on local schools) to tenants in the form of a special property tax. School districts in Hesperia, Victorville, Adelanto and Phelan carry millions of dollars in bond debt that rely on fees from homeowners in specific neighborhoods for repayment, as do the cities of Victorville and Hesperia.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at Beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.