Connellsville could see $2M savings if bond refinanced

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 1:01 a.m.

Connellsville Area School District could see a nearly $2 million savings if they decide to refinance the approximate $16 million bond filed in 2008 as part of the Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center renovations and additions.

John McShane, with the district's financial advisers Boenning & Scattergood, told board members on Monday night that rates are so low the district could save just over $1.7 million if directors decide to refinance that bond.

“I never thought we'd be where we're at today — the rates have dropped so low, so if you can take advantage of it, great — you should,” he said.

McShane said they usually like to see a 2 percent savings when they look at refinancing bonds, but with the interest rates dropping from 4.9 percent to 3.4 percent, the district would realize an almost 10 percent savings, at about $1.7 million.

He added that if the district decides to refinance, they would have to pass a resolution to the effect that if certain parameters are met, they would look at locking in rates and getting a savings for the district.

McShane felt comfortable with the district waiting until its November meeting to make a decision.

Also, McShane told board members they plan to lock in the rates on a $10 million bond the district needs as final funding for the high school project. Directors approved the action in February.

“Since 1999, there has roughly been only two weeks where the rates were lower than they were last week,” McShane said. “I'm not saying that the rates won't go lower, but from a marketing perspective, it seems the timing is right and that $10 million should fully fund the high school project.”

During public comment, resident Teri Hirko told the board there are a lot of people standing behind the district in regards to the Ten Commandments issue and asked for an update.

Solicitor Christopher Stern said a lawsuit was filed against the district for not moving the Ten Commandments monument that's located near Connellsville Junior High. He added that under federal rules, the district has up to 60 days to respond, but they have not responded at this point. The suit was filed on Sept. 26.

When asked if the district was renting the area where the soccer fields are located in front of the school from the nearby Church of God, Stern said they are still investigating.

“We're doing our homework,” he said.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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