Board OK’s $2 Million Bond

WINNSBORO (Aug. 25, 2016) – During last week’s Fairfield County School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green asked the Board to approve a $2 million General Obligation (GO) bond to renovate Kelly Miller Elementary School.

The District’s Finance Director Kevin Robinson told the Board that passing the $2 million GO bond “would result in a 3 mill drop in the School District’s debt millage.”

However, when pressed by Board member Paula Hartman (District 1) to explain how adding a $2 million bond would reduce the District’s debt millage, Robinson clarified that the drop in millage this year will actually result from a reduction in the amount of the District’s payment on a previous GO bond. He said the payments (on a $20 million GO bond passed by the Board in 2013 to build the Career Center) were structured to be high the first three years and lower beginning this year. Green said he expects the bond payments for the Career Center to remain low through 2025 and that the $2 million bond will be paid off in one year.

Also contributing to the drop in the District’s debt millage, according to Green, is that the District is not using all the funds that were designated for capital projects in the 2013 GO bond. Only $15.6 million of the $20 million bond went to the Career Center. The remaining $4.4 million was earmarked for other capital projects.

When the Career Center bond was passed in 2013, Mike Gallagher, the District’s financial advisor on the bond issue, said the $20 million GO bond would bump millage rates to 34 mills for the first two years, then drop to about 24 mills.

“The expectation when we passed the bond was that we were going to stay at 23.6 mills through 2025,” Green said. “That would give us the capacity to have a certain amount of funds for capital improvements in addition to funds for the career center payments. Since we are not going to use all the capacity we have for capital improvements this year, we will have a further millage decrease.”

While Green did not say how much the millage would decrease, he did say that even with the issuance of the $2 million bond the millage would be at about 20.5 mills this year and probably until 2025.

“If we don’t borrow the money ($2 million GO bond), would the millage drop more than three mills?” Hartman asked.

“Yes,” Robinson said, but he did not say how much the debt millage would drop in 2016 if the District does not pass the $2 million GO bond.

“Where are we with the Middle School renovation?” Board member William Frick (District 6) asked. “Are we still looking to do that as a capital project or with a GO bond?”

“We will use the $2.25 million surplus that we transferred into the capital account last year,” Green said.

“So it should not be necessary to go outside these capital funds for additional money?” Frick asked.

“The architects always tell you what the project will cost, but it doesn’t mean anything until a contractor tells you they’ll do it for that,” Green said.

Frick also questioned why a letter sent to Board members stated the bond will be for $2 million, but the resolution says $2.5 million.

“The way the millage stands (at 23.6), based on last year, the bond could generate enough for $2.5 million, but that’s not necessary,” Robinson said. “What’s necessary is $2 million.”

Green said the Kelley Miller renovation would include the addition of six rooms for band, music, art, dance, science and in-school suspension. The next step, Green said, is to put the project out for bid and he expects construction to begin around the end of the year.

After the renovation of the Middle School and the Kelly Miller School, Green said he would like to build a new field house.

The Board approved the bond 6-1, with Hartman voting against.