Comfort From Orange County

SEVENTY-SEVEN CENTS ON the dollar: Not bad, not terrific, for investors in Orange County. Under a plan unveiled Feb. 7, agencies in the county pool would get 77% of their investment back in cash. School districts would get an additional 13% from notes issued later. Bond holders are guarded. "It's a first-blush proposal," says Peer Swan, chairman of the Irvine Ranch Water District, with $300 million in the pool. A settlement would free up over $600 million in reserves earmarked for bond payments due this summer.

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