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Restructuring debt helping district sustain financial status quo

Moves should keep property tax rate at $2.34 for 2012, 2013

Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013 4:56 a.m. CST

MINOOKA, Ill. — Minooka Community High School District 111 has saved thousands of dollars in the last few years by restructuring bond debt and taking advantage of interest rates significantly lower than when the bonds were issued.

As a result, the district should be able to maintain its current tax rate of $2.34 for the levy years of 2012 and 2013, which are payable in the summers of 2013 and 2014, respectively, Todd Krzyskowski, managing director for Mesirow Financial, told the board of education Thursday.

More money could be saved in 2013, as other refinancing opportunities become available, Krzyskowski said.

“It looks like you will have another opportunity to do that later this year,” he said.

District 111 currently has over $63 million in outstanding general obligation bond debt. More than two thirds of the principal is available for cost savings and restructuring, Krzyskowski said.

One bond issue with a $26 million balance is from the 2006 referendum to build South Campus in Channahon. Savings from that could be as much as $3 million, Krzyskowski said. The other two could save another $800,000.

Minooka High is eligible for Bank Qualified Tax Exempt interest rates for refunding or restructuring up to $10 million in bonds annually. That means 65 percent more savings, Krzyskowski said.

The district also has the flexibility to refinance and has a strong AA rating right now.

“It looks like you are going to have good news from savings later this year and next year,” Krzyskowski said.

SALES TAX IDEA

School superintendents from Grundy County are gathering in May at a joint board meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a 1 percent county sales tax that would go to school districts to ease the burden on property tax payers.

Superintendents will meet with experts on the subject to hear the pros and cons, how it’s worked in other counties, and to explore the idea, said Minooka High Superintendent Jim Colyott.

“A county sales tax could bring in a lot of revenue,” Colyott said. “It’s simply an option out there. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to explore.”

TRANSPORTATION FACILITY

Board members Thursday got a first look at the new transportation facility’s site plan, which Colby Lewis of STR Partners architects presented.

District 111 and Minooka Grade School District 201 jointly purchased the former 84 Lumber property and buildings on Minooka Road, and are renovating it for the new facility.

The project went out for bid earlier in the week and eight contractors are considering it, said Doug Lin, project manager for Gilbane Construction.

Plans are to have the main buildings ready for the move in of equipment and office furniture by June, and the site completed in July.

“When school opens, you should have that facility,” Lin said.

The total project is expected to cost around $3.16 million, which includes $2.58 million for construction and $180,000 in the contingency fund.

Bids will be opened on March 13, and a contractor will be recommended at the District 201 board of education meeting on March 20.

“Once the bids are opened (and) we see the financial records, you will have actual numbers at that board meeting,” said Lin.

HOMECOMING PARADE

A group of “spirit” parents are proposing Minooka High bring back the homecoming parade.

Parent Patty Klank spoke to the board of education about the proposal Thursday.

“We want to increase a sense of school pride and bring back some of the old traditions,” Klank said.

About 40 parents of District 111 students are on board, but they don’t want to put any more time into the project until they have approval from the board of education, she said.

The group is proposing to have the parade on Sept. 21, the Saturday prior to Homecoming, in order to kick off the week’s events. The parade would include athletes, clubs, organizations and bands from the high school, as well as the three feeder schools.

There would be no cost to District 111, Klank said.

Klank said she has spoken with Minooka Village President Pat Brennan and Police Chief Justin Meyer, who are both behind the idea. Brennan wrote a letter of support to Superintendent Jim Colyott.

She has also had two meetings with school Principal Darcie Kubinski and another meeting was scheduled.

Board President Chris Kobe said the board had to follow procedure, which includes committee review of a written proposal, before a recommendation goes to the full board.

Kubinski offered to organize a report after she met with Klank again the following day.

“Several (school) organizations are in favor of this, Student Council for one,” said Kubinski. “There’s a lot of talk going around about it.”

Klank asked to have a decision from the board within the next 30 days.

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