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CUSD Staff Recommends Talega Get Its Tax Refund

If the school board agrees, it could mean a $314 savings on average per homeowner.

Vista Del Mar Elementary School in the Talega section of San Clemente. Photo courtesy of Capistrano Unified School District.
Vista Del Mar Elementary School in the Talega section of San Clemente. Photo courtesy of Capistrano Unified School District.

Capistrano Unified School District staff is recommending the savings from a recent financing of bonds be returned to the taxpayers in Talega in the form of reduced taxes.

The move could save residents who live in a special taxing district – known as a Community Facilities District, or Mello-Roos district – as much as $314 per homeowner on average.

Last year, CUSD was able to refinance that bonds that helped build Vista Del Mar Elementary, Middle School and San Juan Hills High.

But school board members decided in August to hold onto the $17 million in savings and possibly spend it on much-needed repairs at San Clemente High School.

The move galvanized Talega residents, who have been organizing, signing petitions and regularly showing up to school board meetings to ask for their money back.

Many said they found it especially unfair that landowners in Las Flores were able to reap the benefits of a similar bond refinancing, but not Talega residents.

In December, Trustee Ellen Addonizio proposed bringing back the matter for reconsideration in January.

On Wednesday, trustees will do just that. Staff is recommending residents get the full benefit of the savings. However, there is an option on the table that would split the baby: giving Talega residents half of the savings and keeping half of it, or $8.5 million, for future projects.

With board President John Alpay unable to vote on the matter because he lives in Talega, the remaining trustees have been split 3-3 in the past on this matter, with Trustees Lynn Hatton, Amy Hanacek and Gary Pritchard tending to want to hold onto the money to improve schools and Trustees Addonizio, Jim Reardon and Anna Bryson wanting to return the savings to the taxpayers.

A tie acts as a no vote.

Also on the agenda is an item that will discuss what happened with the savings of a 2006 refinancing. By resolution, the board had decided the savings would return to Talega taxpayers, but they say they never got it.

The board meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the school district headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano. 

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