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CUSD LOGOBy Eric Heinz

Capistrano Unified School District approved each of the Mello-Roos Community Fund District refinancing and rate changes proposed at Wednesday night’s regular meeting.

Although Dana Point has no CFDs at this time, the decision affects schools attended by Dana Point residents—San Juan Hills High School and San Clemente High School.

Regarding the CFD changes, which are special taxes to fund improvements to schools and construct new buildings, the San Juan Hills High School obligations were established.

Because of the savings made from refinancing on all bonds, the board of trustees lowered or maintained the levee rate for all taxable property within the CFDs discussed for refinancing.

Pacifica San Juan, a real estate lot in San Juan Capistrano that has been partially developed for years, was reduced to 1 percent of the allowable taxation—a total of a 57 percent reduction.

A point of contention with residents of the Talega CFD in San Clemente was a 2 percent increase approved by the board to the levee on taxable home assessments. The trustees said this increase was for the escalated rate that was established at the beginning of the special tax.

During public comment, Jason Ewell, a resident of Talega, criticized the district’s decision to increase during public comment the rate because the Talega CFD had a bond coverage rate of 146 percent before it was refinanced in 2013. CUSD’s target bond coverage rate is 110 percent. Other residents of Talega claim the district still owes taxpayers $6.2 million based on surplus collections.

The Ladera Ranch CFD was given a savings of 3.1 percent on the taxable levee, which trustees said was the result of bonds sold and refinanced the district and passed the interest rate reductions back to the tax payers.

An Orange County Grand Jury report in June recommended more transparency measures should be established for CFD taxpayers within CUSD.

The Rancho Madrina CFD was given an 8.55 percent decrease due in part to the refinance reduction of interest rates that would be attached to bonds sold through Baird, the bank that had the lowest bid during refinancing.

No change was made to the Whispering Hills CFD except for the scheduled escalation to the bond repayments, as not all the bonds for it have been sold.

The Rancho Mission Viejo CFD, once it is established, will also pay into SJHHS facility improvements.

During a phone interview Thursday, Trustee Jim Reardon said he was pleased with the refinances.

“The entire savings from the refinance was returned to the taxpayers,” Reardon said.

A slideshow of the bond refinancing can be found at

The last date to change the rate method for the levees for this fiscal year is Jan. 1, 2016. A community committee, comprised of the public, will meet once a week to discuss improvements and enhancements to school facilities, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning Oct. 15 to Nov. 5 at the district office at 33122, Valle Road in San Juan. Anyone interested in participating can sign up at or email the district at or by mail to the district office. The latest people can sign up is 5 p.m. Sept. 30.

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