Taxpayers benefit as Coupeville School District bonds refinanced

A tumultuous worldwide economy could translate into savings for Central Whidbey taxpayers.

The Coupeville School Board Monday night approved a resolution to refinance bonds voters approved in 2004 that paid for construction of a new high school.

The refinancing will save taxpayers between $582,000 and $800,000 by basically cutting the interest rate on the bonds in half.

“The opportunity is here for us to save the community and taxpayers some money and that is something we should always be mindful of,” Superintendent Patty Page said.

School district leaders decided to refinance bonds because interest rates have been falling in recent months.

Trevor Carlson, senior vice president of Seattle-Northwest Securities, said that turmoil in economies in southern Europe, most notably Greece, has investors flocking to U.S. Treasury securities and tax-exempt bonds, which has caused interest rates to drop.

“This is good news in the bond market,” Carlson told the school board.

He has been tracking interest rates, which he said have fallen in recent weeks to a point where the school district should move forward with refinancing its bonds.

Central Whidbey voters approved a $22.8 million measure in 2004 to build the new high school. Those bonds have an interest rate of 5 percent. Once the bonds are refinanced, the interest rate will drop to an estimated 2.4 percent.

“The sole purpose of this is to generate savings for the taxpayer,” attorney Cythia Weed, who represents the school district, said during the meeting.

Of the original amount the school district has $14.56 million in bonds it can refinance.

For that to happen, the school district would have to issue at most $16 million in bonds. Those bonds would be placed in an escrow account, which is then invested in U.S. Treasury securities, according to information presented at the school board meeting. The treasury securities, along with interest generated by the escrow account, would be used to pay off the original high school bonds.

The high school bonds are scheduled to be paid off in 2022. Page said she didn’t have information yet about the new tax rate for property owners living within the Central Whidbey-based school district.

She met with a bond rating agency Tuesday and she hopes the sale of the new bonds will take place sometime next week.


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