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Stories Added - June 2008
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Trustees authorize first round of school bonds
Polk County Enterprise - June 2008

LIVINGSTON — Dr. Darrell Myers, superintendent for Livingston Independent School District, stood fi rm on the proposal to issue $53.5 million in bonds to fund construction of a new high school campus, although fi nancial adviser Doug Witt pointed out that the district’s funding situation has improved from the model used to formulate the bond package. Witt told LISD trustees Monday that property tax assessments have grown by 9 percent and the fi nancial models used a 4 percent growth factor. That growth increase and a 0.025 percent decrease in prevailing interest rates could yield an additional $1.5 million in bonds while tax rates remain the same.

Myers quickly interjected that the district would stick with issuing the $53.5 million bond issue that he explained to voters. “My recommendation is based on the increase in property values,” Witt said. “We can issue more bonds and still be at or below the tax rate.” Myers objection to that plan was that it didn’t adhere to what he told voters. “My problem is this: I stood up there and told them that we would issue $53.5 million and I stood up there and told them the tax rate would change by 31 cents,” Myers said. “If it comes out less than 31 cents, I’ll be OK. If it comes in more than $53.5 million I’m probably not going to be OK. It sounds good, but it’s not what we told folks.”

Myers added that he was stating his own opinion, not the board’s. Board members Henry Ager and Bea Ellis quickly agreed with Myers. “We can’t perfect the bond program,” Witt said. “We never know what next year’s collection percentage will be. We just take the assumptions and make the best model we can. We’re either going to have less money or more bonds.” The board authorized Coastal Securities and LISD staff to prepare the necessary instruments to issue $53.5 million in bonds. “This time next year we’ll evaluate state funding and present the options,” Witt said. The fi rst year tax rate will be below but close to the 38 cent projection, according to Witt.

The overall bond package is dependent on student population, but the fi rst round is based on tax assessments and other factors. Coastal Securities will bring the package back to board members to consider an order to issue bonds June 28. Once the bonds are sold, the funds will be delivered to the construction fund. The district will invest the $53.5 million and draw money as needed. “You’ll earn interest on that money during the design phase,” Witt said. Earned interest will be used to furnish the new high school building so taxpayers don’t have to bear that expense, according to Myers.

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