2017-09-21 / Front Page

Refinancing will lock lower interest rate and result in significant savings

By JANE ELLYN AARON
news editor

Members of the board of education voted to proceed with a bond tax refinancing, which Superintendent Dr. Rosemary Caddell explained will not only lock in a lower interest rate, but will result in significant savings over time.

Andrew Tritt with Stifel Financial Corporation will conduct the refinancing process.

In answer to a request for information on how the refinancing would affect the SPLOST cycle and its possible extensions from Chairman Ricky Callaway, Caddell explained, “We were already planning for SPLOST five, which carries us through December 31, 2028. In our current situation that takes care of our bonds, and we also have the loan at the bank that will balloon on January 21, 2023, at a principal plus interest cost of 2.56, so we’re going to have to go into a SPLOST six anyway to continue to cover that indebtedness. By refinancing our bonds, this would take the bond into one year of covering that indebtedness.

“We’re in SPLOST four until December 31, 2023, and we can put SPLOST five on the ballot as early as 2021,” Caddell added. “Our current yearly average SPLOST is running around $90,000 per month and that’s up, we were running rather low for a couple of years, and at that rate per month that’s about $1,080,000 a year. Our current payments with the bond plus loan are $1,038,521 a year, so if our current average holds we’d be running about $42,010 each year for the SPLOST.”

As a comparison, however, the superintendent pointed out that looking at the full fiscal year the budget was developed and based on an $88,000 a month average in SPLOST collections, which is what was run for the entire fiscal year, and totaled around $1,054,000.

Regarding the entirety of the refinancing process, Chairman Callaway remarked, “We’re not adding anything, we’re not borrowing new money, we’re just managing debt.

“Everybody that purchases something in Wilkes County is paying for the school,” he added, referring to the sales tax collection process.

In other business, Caddell was excited to announce that strides have been made to established the forthcoming telehealth program in Wilkes County schools, and that the system is currently working on a business association agreement with Wills Memorial Hospital.

Caddell also reported that the press box is now complete at Tiger Stadium, and that she has received compliments on both it and the new fencing that was recently erected.

The superintendent was also happy to report that there was no damage to school properties as a result of Hurricane Irma.

The next meeting of the Wilkes County Board of Education will be held on Monday, October 23, beginning at 2 p.m. at the board office.

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