Voters pass Cassville R-4 bond issue

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

District approved to seek $4 million for projects

Voters in the Cassville R-4 School District have approved a $4 million bond issue the district aims to use for various capital improvement projects.

Unofficial results from Tuesday's election show 64 percent in favor of the issue (734 votes), and 36 percent against it (407 votes).

Richard Asbill, superintendent of Cassville Schools, said he was pleased with the election's outcome.

"We are very excited about the approval voters have given us," he said. "We appreciate the responsibility they have given us to provide their children with an excellent school district and great opportunities."

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.

According to Asbill, and with input from teachers and administrators throughout the district, electrical issues, technology and roofing are at the top of the list of improvements to be made first.

Asbill said the results of the election will be certified on April 17, allowing the district to then set out a bond application schedule with the underwriters and begin working on approving projects.

"We hope to have the first round of projects approved in May, and that would let us get started on those projects in June," he 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 district plans to repay the bonds over a 20-year period using the property tax revenues already in place, as the bond issue was written to avoid a tax increase.

Repayment of the bonds may also happen sooner than later, as the district has been approved for the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds program, which may allow the school to get up to $2.1 million in interest-free bonds.

The QZAB bonds, which may only be used for renovations, repairs and improvements to existing facilities, require business partners, which the district obtained in Security, Freedom and Commerce banks in Cassville.

Asbill said an estimated dollar amount the district, and taxpayers, could save is unattainable at this time for multiple reasons. Even though the bond issue has passed, interest rates on any bonds the district could receive may change between now and when the bonds are secured. And, after a period of about 7-10 years, the district may have an opportunity to refinance any bonds with interest rates, taking the potential savings and refinance fees into account.

Asbill said the district asked for the issue because the money spent on its two FEMA buildings, one at the middle school and one at the high school, have stifled the district's ability to continue doing other capital improvements.

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