Cassville Schools approve bond issue

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

District asks for $4 million for various improvements

Voters who live in the Cassville R-4 School District will have a decision to make on April 8, as the district has approved a $4 million bond issue to present to voters.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of the district, said the bond issue is unlike any other the school has presented to voters, as it will fund a hodgepodge of projects, instead of focusing on just one thing.

"We hope that people understand that Cassville is big school district, and we can't take money out of the classroom to do things like repairs on the roof," he said. "We have great facilities, so we're not out to scare voters into thinking the schools are in disrepair. But, we had to table some things to get the FEMA building, so now, we're asking voters to help us get back on track."

If approved, the $4 million in bonds will fund a myriad of projects, including: Renovations, FEMA additions, heating and air improvements, electrical systems, seating and flooring improvements, technology and equipment enhancements, roof repairs, parking lot resurfacing and sidewalk additions.

"Right now, we're prioritizing all these projects with the [board of education]," Asbill said. "Then, we will go to the teachers and ask them to review those priorities. It's always good to get a perspective of what people feel is important, and to make sure everyone has a voice in the mix."

Jon Horner, president of First Security Bank in Cassville and three-year member of the board, said the bond underwriting will be handled by LJ Hart Company of St. Louis at a cost of about $55,200. LJ Hart Company was one of four institutions that bid on the underwriting. Others that placed bids included: George K Baum of Kansas City, Mo., Stifel, Nicolaus and Company of St. Louis and Century Services of Kansas City, Mo. The later was ruled out early on, as Century Services is a financial advisement institution, not a bond underwriter.

"The school has had a long background with them, and they're very good at what they do," Horner said. "They also have broad connections in the banking and investment areas, so when the time comes to market the bonds, they should get them all sold for us and get the best yield possible."

Horner said interest rates on purchased bonds will range from about 2 percent for short-term bonds, to about 3 percent for long-term bonds.

"LJ Hart will go out and sell the bonds, and once they reach $4 million, we'll have the money," Horner said. "It's also a municipal bond, so the plus for that is there are no federal or state taxes."

Horner said the district will repay the $4 million over a 20-year period using money garnered from the district's property taxes.

"I don't know yet what a monthly payment would look like for the school," he said. "That will all depend on the market and interest rates in April. The good thing is, interest rates are low, so this is a great time to get this done because of that."

Asbill said the district is going with the bond issue instead of a property tax hike so residents will not feel a pinch in their wallets. Tax payers will still pay the same property tax rate, the money from which will be used to pay off the bond payments.

"We understand voters in this area have always been very conservative, and that's a good thing," Asbill said. "But, we have a very conservative board of education, and they would not put a need before voters that is not relevant to the schools' needs."

For more information about specific items in the capital projects plan, people may call the Cassville School District at 417-847-2221.

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