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Santa Monica Property Owners to See Lower Tax Bills After School District Refinances Bonds

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By Lookout Staff

August 6, 2020 -- Santa Monica and Malibu taxpayers will save more than $6 million after the School District refinanced nearly $75 million in general obligation bonds, District officials announced Thursday.

The reduced property tax rate on future tax bills comes as interest rates have dropped to record lows "due to the coronavirus pandemic and overall economic uncertainty," officials said.

“With interest rates at historic lows, we felt it was the right thing to do to save our community money,” Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said in a statement.

“We are thrilled with the results of the sale,” Drati said.

Under the new terms approved last month, approximately $74.6 million of old bonds from Measures BB and ES were refunded, which included different issuances, or bond sales, from 2013, 2014, and 2015, District officials said.

Interest rates on the old bonds ranged from 2.210 percent to 4.050 percent, compared to .301 to 2.314 percent on the new bonds.

The refinancing does not extend the original terms of the borrowing, officials said.

“Our fiscal team is responsible for keeping an eye on our debt obligations and seek opportunities to save money, both for the district and our taxpayers,” said Melody Canady, assistant superintendent of business and fiscal services.

The refinancing of the bonds was authorized by the Board of Education on April 1, 2020.

“We know that our community supports our schools, and in turn we want to give back to our community by saving taxpayer dollars,” Board President, Jon Kean, said.

Bond measures approved by Santa Monica and Malibu voters over the years "have been used to fund improvements to aging district classrooms and school facilities," District officials said.

These include upgrading outdated infrastructure -- including electrical, plumbing, sewer, and HVAC systems -- and making technology upgrades, as well as safety and security improvements, officials said.

The improvements were completed using funds from Measure ES, a $385 million bond measure approved by voters in 2012, and Measure BB, a $268 million bond approved in 2006.

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