San Dieguito property owners overcharged on tax bills

San Dieguito property owners overcharged on tax bills
The San Dieguito Union High School District announced that it overcharged property taxes within its boundaries. The district plans on releasing more information about reimbursing homeowners in the next week. File photo by Jared Whitlock

District will reimburse those who already paid 

COAST CITIES — Thousands of residents in the San Dieguito Union High School District were recently mailed property tax bills that overstated how much they owe, school officials said last week.

The error was due to a miscalculation of the tax rate assessed for Proposition AA, according to the district.

Last year, Proposition AA, a $449 million bond, barely passed. To pay for the measure during the campaign, the district said property tax bills would go up by no more than $25 per $100,000 of assessed home value.

However, 70,000 property owners in the district were charged an increased bill of $37 per $100,000 of assessed home value, resulting in an average property tax bill $100 higher than it should be, according to Michael Workman, a spokesman with the county.

On Monday, Workman noted that about 4 percent of the property owners have already paid their bill. The San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector is looking at options for refunding them.

Officials are finalizing instructions for those who haven’t paid.

One option includes having property owners pay their entire bill and the county reimbursing them later. Further instructions will be released online and mailed to those impacted by the error in the next week, Workman said.

“We don’t have a timeline for refunding them at this time,” Workman said.

Workman said he’s not aware of potential legal consequences facing the county or school district as a result of the miscalculation.

Eric Dill, associate superintendent of the school district, said he’s unsure how exactly the error occurred, but added that it will be investigated.

“We’re focused on making this right,” Dill said. “We’ll circle back once we have solutions for reimbursements.”

What’s known is that earlier this year, issuing the bonds at a premium generated $7 million in revenue. That information was included in documents distributed to county and district officials, Dill said.

However, for an unknown reason, the revenue wasn’t applied to the first principal payment, causing the faulty calculation. The mistake wasn’t caught until after the bills were sent out, according to Dill.

Dill said that Marsha Sutton, a property owner in the district and a reporter with the Del Mar Times, notified San Dieguito about the miscalculation several weeks ago.

If accurately assessed, the property tax bills would have been an additional $23 per $100,000 of assessed home value, Dill noted.

“We made a promise not to exceed $25,” Dill said. “We will honor that.”

Proposition AA calls for infrastructure upgrades, rebuilding schools and other construction projects for schools throughout the district.

San Dieguito serves 12,500 students in Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and Carmel Valley and Rancho Santa Fe.

 

 

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