School board seeks to refinance bonds

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PONDER — The Ponder school district is looking to refinance nearly $7.3 million in bonds from its 2003 series at a lower interest rate.

The action could save the district more than $950,000 over the next 10 to 15 years, Superintendent Bruce Yeager said.

While interest rates are at an all-time low, the district hopes to lock in a rate below 1 percent within the next couple months, he said.

“Potentially, if our property values stay constant, it should lower our interest and sinking rate,” Yeager said.

Yeager added that the district has been fortunate in maintaining its current 31-cent interest and sinking tax rate. Money collected from the tax helps the district to pay down its debt.

At the time voters approved the district’s last bond referendum in 2007, Yeager said, the district advertised to voters that the interest and sinking tax rate would remain below 34 cents. He said he’s confident that refinancing the 2003 series bonds would allow the district to remain below the tax rate advertised in 2007.

Last year, the district refinanced two series of bonds — a 1998 series that saved the district $305,000, and a 2002 series that saved taxpayers more than $1.9 million. Refinancing those bonds will allow the district to pay off the bonds five years sooner than the initial 2032 pay-off date, Yeager said.

Board President Vangee Deussen said the potential refinance of the 2003 series bonds is the “smartest move” in taking advantage of the current interest rates.

“To save taxpayers money, that’s the plan,” she said.

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