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South Putnam board discusses refinancing

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The South Putnam School Board is well on its way to being ready for the upcoming school year, which begins next month.

During a lengthy meeting for the board on Monday evening several routine issues were taken care of and some finances were addressed.

Like many of the other corporations, it was time for the board to nominate and elect officers. The board however chose to keep its officers the same, as some will be leaving within six months when their terms are over.

Mike Rissler will remain the president, Nancy Wells the vice president and Steve Cash as the secretary.

The treasurer, Becky Samsel, and the deputy treasurer, Terri Beasley, will also remain in their positions.

John Zeiner was also voted to remain the corporation attorney.

The board also awarded performance bonds to Penny Long, Fillmore Elementary School secretary; Lisa McCammack, Central Elementary secretary; South Putnam High School Treasurer Marie Newmann, Corporation Treasurer Becky Samsel, Deputy Treasurer Terri Beasley and Food Service Director Annabeth Smith.

Randy Ruhl of City Securities presented the board with the status of the corporations current bonds.

"This is something we've been watching for some time," said Ruhl. "We have looked at all the bond issues to see which are the best candidates and where interest rates are today."

Currently, the school corporation five obligations that are outstanding, one being pension bonds.

Ruhl focused on the bonds that were done in 2003, which were listed with a purpose of Fillmore Elementary. Much of the money used was for the addition added to the school.

Just over $7.6 million is outstanding with the current bonds at Fillmore Elementary.

The bonds run through tax collection year 2021, therefore there are only nine additional years left for the repayment of those bonds.

"We don't see a lot changing, but you never know what might happen with an election this fall," explained Ruhl. "Rates are as low as I've ever seen them."

The board made the decision to refinance as long as they will receive a minimum net savings of at least $450,000.

"Our incentive is to generate as much savings as we can," said Ruhl.

Although, the pension bonds are important Ruhl stated that at this time there is no real opportunity today, but there may be in a couple of years.

Ruhl plans on coming back in a couple years to discuss refinancing the pension bonds, which are unable to be redeemed or paid back earlier than 2015.

By refinancing the 2003 bonds there will be around $70,000 a year of reduction in taxes that will be collected. Over $600,000 of taxes will be reduced as a result of this refinancing over nine years.

Ruhl will begin the process of refinancing the bonds, which will take around 30 days to complete.

Corporation Attorney John Zeiner has finally drafted a mutual use easement for the Reelsville Fire Department's sewage system.

The agreement, which will be signed by the Youth League, Washington Township and the fire department allows for the building of a septic system.

The system will be used by both the Youth League and the fire department and will be built after the league is finished with its season.

In preparation for the school year, the board approved a list of several high school books to be used during the school year along with the elementary, high school and transportation handbooks.

Like many, lunch prices will be going up this school year. Per the recommendation of Food Services Director Annabeth Smith, prices will increase by five cents.

"At this time she believes this increase will be sufficient," said Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt. "If food prices were to change we will be re-visiting this next semester."

Breakfast will be $1.50, student lunches will be $2.55 and adult lunches will be $3.25.

The board approved the resignations of Elaine Bye as the high school Math Academic Team coach and Zack Love as the assistant varsity baseball coach.

The board also eliminated the position of secretary and treasurer at Reelsville Elementary, which Angie Nichols previously held.

Lisa Clunie was also hired in a temporary position in the middle school along with Margaret Miller and Heath Pruitt.

The following athletic coaches were approved for hire during the meeting as well: Evan Bernhardt as the junior varsity football coach, Jeff Duvall, as junior high football coach, Brandon Welti as a varsity cross country coach, Heath Pruitt and Elaine Bye as assistant cross country coaches, Matthew Steward as a seventh-grade boys' basketball coach and junior high football coach, Zach Love as a varsity baseball coach and Matthew Stewart as assistant baseball coach.

Bernhardt updated the board on the status of several projects that were previously discussed.

The concrete pad has been completed for the new outdoor cooler as well as the parking lot has been sealed.

"We are getting everything ready for school," said Bernhardt.

Bernhadt will also begin looking at fuel prices in hopes in locking in half of the corporations budgeted fuel money.

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