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Talega Residents Want School Board to Rethink Tax Decision

Ellen Addonizio will ask her fellow trustees just that on Wednesday.

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

EDITOR'S NOTE: Edited to add a comment from Trustee Ellen Addonizio. Originally posted at 10:31 a.m. Dec. 10, 2013. 

Talega residents want the Capistrano Unified school board to reverse a decision to withhold tax savings from them achieved when the district recently refinanced some bonds – and they have an advocate in Trustee Ellen Addonizio.

Addonizio is asking her fellow trustees to reconsider an August vote to hold onto the savings to help fund major renovations needed at San Clemente High School.

In November, a number of Talega residents came before the Board of Trustees, complaining they were unaware of the August agenda item, and had they known, they would have asked for the refund.

“Every single person I run into says,’If I have a mortgage and refinance it, the bank wouldn’t get the savings, I would get the savings,’” said Marc Veale, a Talega resident helping to get word out about the August decision.

At issue is a recent refinancing of bonds paid for with special levies on Talega landowners’ tax bill, called Mello-Roos fees. In one instance, the board decided to refund the savings back to taxpayers in Las Flores. But the board decided to hold onto the extra proceeds from Talega residents for at least one more year.

Word is now circulating – and even an online petition – and residents plan to show up to Wednesday’s school board meeting to be heard again.

"I favored returning refinance funds to the taxpayers, lost the motion [in August] and have since responded to parent and taxpayer concerns to reagendize the item," Addonizio said.

Talega resident Laura Ferguson said if the district simply can’t part with the money that is rightfully belonging to the Talega landowners, then she would at least like to be seen it spent on Talega schools.

“We have a $10.5 million need at facilities upgrades in the home schools in Talega,” she said, referring to a recently updated report on the physical needs of all the district’s campuses. “I don’t want to see one penny of that money going outside the [Community Facilities District, another name for Mello-Roos districts] of Talega when there are needs here right now.”

Trustees have said the high school can access Talega tax proceeds because its students go to San Clemente High, even though SCHS is outside of Talega.

Ferguson’s first choice is to have the money be returned.

“We pay on that bond. We’ve had no tax break. We have funded our CFDs in excess of what we really should have. Give us a break like you did another community,” Ferguson said.

If the board agrees with Addonizio to rehear the Talega decision, it will appear on a future agenda. Also on Wednesday’s agenda is a proposal to retire the school district’s first Mello-Roos district, in Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo, and an item that would have the district begin addressing some of the most dilapidated schools, including San Clemente High. 

The trustees meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the district headquarters, 33122 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano. 

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Mission Viejo Mom December 10, 2013 at 06:12 PM
SCHS may not be in the boundaries of Talega, but kids from Talega attend that school. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that mello roos money can and should be used for upgrades. Mission Viejo mello roos have been used for both Newhart and CVHS upgrades and there certainly were no complaints from the people of that mello roos district since it benefited their kids.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 10, 2013 at 06:27 PM
I've actually heard complaints about 87-1, because it was spent in ways that went outside the specifics mentioned in the foundation papers (for example, the district headquarters, I wrote an article about that; see: http://sanjuancapistrano.patch.com/groups/schools/p/trustees-try-to-decide-what-s-fair-among-taxpayers). 87-1 was the most narrowly-written Mello-Roos district. Since then, the district has a bit more flexibility (i.e. the schools aren't called out by name).

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