At the Dec. 19 meeting of the Independent School District 318 Board, Business Manager Pat Goggin delivered a report on the district’s OPEB bonds.
OPEB or Other Post-Employment Benefits are used to help pay for ongoing costs of the District’s retirees, especially health care costs. The district had been paying 5.25 percent interest on its OPEB bonds. At the Dec. 5 meeting, Goggin said that the district would be refinancing the bonds to get a lower interest rate. At that time, he said the savings the district achieved would be used to partially offset the increase in the levy. The district set a preliminary levy increase of 10.25 percent.
Goggin then presented a policy change regarding OPEB bonds that would allow the District greater latitude in investing funds from the bonds. That resolution passed unanimously.
Greg Crowe from Ehlers & Associates, the district’s financial consultants, recapped the sale of the OPEB bonds for the board. He reported that seven companies had bid on the OPEB bonds and that the successful bidder was Piper Jaffray from Minneapolis, with a bid of 2.5 percent.
Crowe said tax payers would save about $2.7 million in debt service payments over the balance of the life of the bonds, or about $350,000 annually.
Goggin returned to the microphone after Crowe’s presentation. He said the levy being considered by the board now stood at $11,076,543.44, down from the $11,449,111.08 figure presented at the last meeting. Refinancing of the OPEB bonds had reduced the increase in the levy from 10.25 to 6.66 percent. The reduction would not affect the district’s ability to levy for the maximum in facility maintenance, a figure Goggin put at $1.2 million at the Dec. 5 meeting.
Before voting on the levy, Director Pat Medure took some time to comment. He said that members of the public had approached him to ask what the increase in the levy would be used for. About 98 percent of the money would be spent on capital projects.
“I’m going to support the motion but come January or sometime in the first part of February, I’d like to sit down at a workshop and define what those projects are going to be for this coming year so we have something to go back to the public and tell them, this is what the money is going to be spent on,” said Medure.
Superintendent Bruce Thomas agreed, adding; “If we say we’re going to do it, I also want assurances that the projects will be done.”
Thomas also indicated that the district was in a difficult position, having to strike a balance between maintaining old facilities and limiting expenditures on buildings that may not be used for the long term. The board then passed the reduced levy unanimously.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the hiring of two replacement custodians and the transfer of one secretary.
• Accepted the second reading and approved the adoption of the new OPEB Trust Investment Policy.
• Accepted the second reading and approved a revision to the use of the District’s facilities and equipment which will allow the yet-to-be-determined use of certain District facilities and equipment on Sundays.