CALEXICO – The Calexico Unified School District is in a predicament after State officials mandated the $1.4 million held by the City of Calexico cannot be used towards the community swimming pool currently under construction at the Calexico High School.
“The Department of Finance has rejected the City of Calexico’s placement of the proceeds from the Calexico Unified School District RDA 2011 bonds, thereby denying District access to much needed funds for the District’s swimming pool project at Calexico High School,” explained Mei L. Randle, MBA, Assistant Supt. Business Services.
The $1.4 million was money originated as Redevelopment Agency Dissolution (RDA) proceeds and had been bonded by the City of Calexico to be applied towards the cost of the swimming pool, a joint project by the CUSD and the city.
According to the state the $1.4 million was RDA money that the city was supposed to return after the statewide dissolution of the RDA in 2012. Both the city of Calexico and the CUSD held a conference call with the state in December who agreed to allow CUSD to utilize $72,000 of the $1.4 million and return the remained to the state.
Randle explained that the RDA’s successor agency and the City of Calexico, agree that the RDA 2011 bonds were issued on the District’s behalf for the swimming pool project and that the City was merely a custodian of the funds.
“The State has informed us (CUSD) that the money is part of the RDA funding and that we can only utilize $71,864 of the $1,446,592 million,” said Maria Ambriz, Superintendent, Calexico Unified School District.
The CUSD, the City of Calexico and their legal advisors will continue to work diligently to resolve the issue with the state, however if the state does not reconsider allowing the $1.4 million be to used, the district will utilize general fund money.
“The CUSD Attorney Marty Horn will contact the Department of Finance legal counsel Shelly Renner and begin the process of disputing the state’s decision. Until this funding issue is resolved, RDA funds will be considered last in the reimbursement cycle that is stated in the MOU. The District will use grant funds, FEMA, and Measure H funds first,” explained Randle.
Additionally, Randle said district officials will contact Senator Ben Hueso and Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia to make them aware of the situation and the implications of the actions of the DOF.
Currently the $1.4 million is being held in a trust fund by the city of Calexico who has received $360,000 yearly from the CUSD as an annual debt service payment.
“We believe that with the documentation and with the support of Senator Hueso’s office and Mr. Garcia’s office along with legal opinions and our legal being involved and the support of the community and everyone else, I do believe that we have a fighting chance for the State to reconsider,” said Randle.
The swimming pool is under construction in full force in expected to be completed by summer.
The April 4, 2010, 7.4 magnitude earthquake severally damaged the Calexico HS swimming pool. District and City agreed to jointly rebuild and upgrade the Calexico HS swimming pool through various grants, and District and City contributions. One such District contribution was through the issuance of bonds in 2011 by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Calexico for the District’s use on the pool project (“RDA 2011 Bonds”).
On April 26, 2011, the District’s board approved Resolution No. 36-04-11 that approved the issuance of the RDA 2011 Bonds.
In May 2011, the RDA 2011 Bonds were issued in the amount of $1,815,000, which netted $1,446,592. The RDA 2011 Bonds express state that they are issued on behalf of the District for the Calexico HS swimming pool project.
District and City, working jointly, developed a plan to joint rebuild and upgrade the Calexico HS swimming pool with a budget of $7.5M.
On November 13, 2014, District and City entered into an MOU, that among other things, identified fund sources for the $7.5M swimming pool project budget. Included, as one of those sources, was $1.441M from the RDA 2011 Bonds.
On June 10, 2015, DSA approved the plans and specifications for the swimming pool project. A construction manager, and contractor are currently under contract with an expected completion date in the late spring.
On December 15, 2015, DOF found that nothing that the City provided showed that the RDA was obligated to build the swimming pool or release the funds to the District. DOF removed the payment of the RDA 2011 Bonds funds from the City’s ROPS 15-16B.