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Bureaucratic blunder leads to bigger tax bills for West Sacramento homeowners

West Sacramento property tax bill to be bigger due to bureaucratic blunder
West Sacramento property tax bill to be bigger due to bureaucratic blunder 01:56

WEST SACRAMENTO -- West Sacramento homeowners are getting an unexpected cost on their annual property tax bill arriving in the mail this month — and many people are not happy about it.

The bigger bill is due to a bureaucratic blunder.

Yolo County's chief financial officer is taking responsibility for the mistake.  

"I personally apologize for any error on our part that has contributed to this situation," said Tom Haynes, the Yolo County interim CFO.

Haynes said the problem is with a Washington Unified School District bond that was passed by voters back in 2004. The district spent the money building a new River City High School campus that was dedicated in 2008.

Property owners have been paying off the $52 million dollar debt each year, but the bond was refinanced and last year's payment was not billed.

"Unfortunately, at the time, our office believed that the debt payments on this bond were ending when they were not," Haynes said.

With Washington Unified in danger of default, the decision was made to add the debt to this year's tax bill.

"It's not my mistake," said West Sacramento homeowner Gene Paic. "I shouldn't have to pay for it."

Many people say they're shocked by the big increase.

"We've got lots of people on fixed incomes," said West Sacramento homeowner Suzanne Johnson. "Any sort of increase is really going to hurt."

The school district also discovered another underpayment with a bond approved three years ago, adding even more cost to this year's bill.

Now, some are concerned that this could be a bigger sign of fiscal mismanagement.

"I think they are doing some shell shifting so that we, the community members, don't know how much we owe," Johnson said.

Washington Unified officials would not comment Thursday on the error, but they plan on holding a hearing on the issue later this year.

The district said it still owes $50 million on the school bonds, which won't be fully paid off until 2031. 

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