About Your Tax Bill

Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) is Orange County’s second-largest water district, providing water and wastewater treatment services to more than 165,000 residents in Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Las Flores, Ladera Ranch, and Talega.

Improvement Districts

The District is divided into eight improvement districts – with some of those improvements districts being further divided into sub improvement districts - that encompass approximately 52,000 acres of land. Improvement districts function as operating units of SMWD, and each improvement district’s facilities are funded with its own bonds, so residents of older neighborhoods don’t have to pay for facilities in new neighborhoods. These districts also allow SMWD to meet the diverse needs of specific service areas, factoring in land use, topography, ownership lines, water supply and wastewater treatment needs.

General Obligation Bonds

SMWD has issued General Obligation Bonds to fund the water and sanitation infrastructure for the various improvement districts, with the exception of Talega (Improvement District 7) which issued Community Facilities District Bonds to finance the infrastructure. General Obligation Bonds are issued for the development of specific facilities and are paid for by the area directly benefiting from the facilities.

As of June 30, 2012, SMWD had $169,260,000 outstanding bonds issued between 1994 through 2011, with final maturities ranging from years 2011 to 2038. Debt service payments (principal and interest) are established at the time the bond is sold, and are collected through the County of Orange Treasurer-Tax Collector via property tax bills.

Land Value

SMWD develops the annual tax rates for the general obligation bonds based only on assessed values of land as prepared by the County of Orange Assessor’s Office. The rate is based on per $100 of assessed land values utilizing the following calculation: total annual debt service divided by total assessed land value in the improvement district divided by 100. This rate produces adequate revenues to meet SMWD’s obligation to its bond holders. You may see variances in the tax bill in your area based on the assessed property values, therefore impacts can vary for each landowner.

Based on current records from the County of Orange Assessor, several improvement district areas have experienced decreases in land values, causing a minor increase in some tax rates along with increased debt service payment amounts. The District continually looks at options to lower current interest rates which would, in turn, lower tax rates to property owners.

Community2013 Assesed Values
($ in 1,000's)
Maturity Date*
1 Mission Viejo $ 4,246,079 2012
2 Coto de Caza 1,733,186 2038
2A Coto de Caza 1,516,823 2018
3 / 3A Rancho Trabuco 584,731 2038
4A Rancho Santa Margarita 1,697,614 2038
4B Las Flores 342,556 2038
4C Chiquita Canyon 30,356 2038
4D Ladera Ranch 1,638,801 2038
4E Ortega 44,332 2038
7 Talega (CFD) 974,637 2033
8 Meadow Ridge 36,008 2014
*Some bonds may mature earlier than the year listed on the chart above

For detailed information about your property tax bill and assessments, visit the OC Treasurer Tax Collector website, where you can search for a property by the parcel number or address.

If you have any additional questions regarding your tax bill, please call the SMWD Finance Department at 949-459-6570.

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