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Issuing $10 million in bonds now to save taxpayers later

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Audit report presented

The Steamboat Springs School Board was presented the audit report from the 2006 fiscal year during Monday's study session and special meeting. Jennifer Todd of Bond and Co. reported that the Steamboat Springs School District's records were clean, and it did not make any audit changes.

The board also continued discussion of Tier 1 and 2 athletics at Steamboat Springs High School. High school Principal Mike Knezevich presented the board with costs to the district if it funded all sports or if it wanted to fund portions of all sports. The board did not take any action but wants to continue the discussion as to what additional costs, if any, the district can absorb.

District finance director Dale Mellor started talking about the 2007-08 budget, but he has no finalized numbers. He will be presenting more concrete numbers in the future.

The Steamboat Springs School Board made two important decisions regarding the construction of a new Soda Creek Elementary School and the renovation of Strawberry Park Elementary School during Monday's special meeting.

The board unanimously approved to issue $10 million in bonds prior to the end of 2006 and authorized School Board President Denise Connelly and School Board secretary Jerry Kozatch to sign the bonds where necessary.

The School Board also unanimously authorized Superintendent Donna Howell to work with architectural firm Christiansen, Reece and Partners to secure the services of an owner's representative and a construction manager or general contractor.

By moving forward with the issuance of $10 million in bonds by the end of this year, an estimated $150,000 in savings over the life of the bonds will be passed along to Steamboat Springs School District taxpayers.

"It's important to be fiscally responsible," Howell said.

District voters passed a referendum asking for $29.7 million in bonds for the rebuilding of Soda Creek and the renovation and expansion of Strawberry Park.

The remaining $19.7 million in bonds will be issued next year.

The interest rate is currently 4 percent.

"Our timing is impeccable," said Dan O'Connell of RBC Capital Markets. He noted that interest rates are at 40-year lows.

O'Connell did not expect interest rates to fluctuate as the district moves forward with issuing its bonds.

"The market should be relatively stable between now and the end of January," he said. "Because of the holidays, there isn't a whole lot of movement in the interest rate market."

The bonds are scheduled to be priced Dec. 14, but closing on the $10 million in bonds won't be complete until right before Christmas, O'Connell said.

He said he would make sure Connelly, Kozatch and district finance director Dale Mellor had the necessary paperwork in their hands before Dec. 21.

Mellor said the bond money will be deposited into a designated building fund.

Board members took time Monday to thank Mellor and the Routt County Clerk and Recorder's Office for putting together the necessary numbers and paperwork to make it possible to issue $10 million in bonds before the end of the year.

"We appreciate them getting that done," board member Pat Gleason said.

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