The Hemet Unified School District is requesting reauthorization of $49 million worth of borrowing power. Measure U, on the November ballot, would allow the district to borrow the funds at a lower rate than the current bonding authorizations provide, thus saving money.
In 2006, district voters approved Measure T, which authorized $149 million of borrowing. Most of these funds were borrowed to pay for the Hemet and Tahquitz high school renovations and other projects.
However, the recession, which drastically deflated local property tax values, limited the district’s ability to borrow. Between 2008 and 2012, the valuation of property within the district declined 25 percent.
As a consequence, rather than borrowing from the balance of the Measure T funds, the district employed federally subsidized anticipation notes, which are five-year notes, for $25 million to finish the Hemet High School work. That leaves $24 million of borrowing authority unused and available.
But the decline of property valuation inhibits this option. Rather than borrow using the mechanism that the Poway district used (capital appreciation bonds, which would cost the district more than $300 million), officials are recommending a new authorization for the original $49 million, but under conditions of current property valuations. This would impose an additional tax of about $25 annually per $100,000 of assessed valuation on affected property owners.
The funds would be used to renovate and upgrade classrooms and school facilities. The funds are restricted and cannot be used for salaries or operating expenses. HUSD must establish a citizen review committee.
No argument was filed in opposition to Measure U. Both the HUSD board and the Hemet Teacher’s Association support its passage.