Buoyed by good news from financial consultants about stimulus funds but dissatisfied with the six sites considered in the failed 2003 attempt to pass a bond issue, board members would like to consider other sites.
Members of the school board met Monday, June 8, to talk about placing another school bond issue on the ballot for November 2009.
"Money has never been cheaper to borrow -- ever -- than it is right now."
With that statement as an opener, Richard G. Bartow, executive vice president of George K. Baum & Company, kicked off his two-hour presentation on the need for the district to pursue voter approval of a school bond issue as soon as possible.
Bartow was one of a team of four consultants to make the case for another attempt at getting voters to agree to construction of a new elementary school at Monday's meeting.
Board members Larry Godsey, Kathy Green, Sherrie Stouffer, Anita Wright and Cindy Brandt were on hand for the meeting.
A one-time change by the Missouri legislature allowing special bond elections in November 2009, with only a 4/7 majority instead of the normal 2/3 requirement, combined with the availability of Qualified School Construction Bonds and Build American Bonds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, presents an opportunity for public schools that, Bartow emphasized, may never come again.
QSCBs, unlike most other school-issued bonds, are zero-interest bonds. The school district pays no interest to the buyer. Instead, the buyer receives Federal tax credits equal to the interest that would have been paid.
BABs are taxable and not interest-free, but a portion of the interest paid on BABs takes the form of a Federal tax credit. And where QSCBs must be used for construction, rehabilitation, or repair of public school facilities, or to purchase land for the project, BABs can also be used for leases. And, importantly, the tax credit can be delivered to the school district, instead of the bondholder.
Bartow said BABs have been "well received in the marketplace."
Both of these school stimulus bonds expire Dec. 31, 2010, unless they're renewed by Congress, "and there's no guarantee of that renewal," Bartow said.
State statutes provide that the school district can be indebted to a maximum of 15 percent of the locally assessed property valuation of the district for the previous year. For the Marshall district, that's 15 percent of $133,964,986, or $20,094,748.
To answer the question of how much the district might need to spend on a new school, Paul James and architect Michael G. Kautz of the firm of Frangkiser Hutchins first reviewed the six sites identified in 2003.
Two of those sites are alongside U.S. Highway 65, north of the railroad tracks and just south of Highway 41/240, one on the east side of the highway and the other on the west side.
A third site fronts on South Odell Avenue, along the east side, just south of Drake Road. Site number four is on the east side of Lincoln Avenue, north of Highway WW and south of East Morrow Street.
The fifth site runs along the west side of U.S 65, at the "Y" intersection separating U.S. 65 and Business 65. The sixth and final site sits along Lincoln Avenue, north of Mueller Road.
Kautz acknowledged that each of the sites has problems, but focused instead on a timeline for the project and the associated cost, which he estimated to be in the range of $12 million dollars, about $5 million more than the 2003 project.
"It won't get cheaper," Kautz said. "The passage of time won't improve the price. Time is your enemy. The years since the last bond issue cost over five million dollars."
Kautz also pointed out that property values in rural communities are rising slowly.
"In five to seven years," he said, "you will find it much harder to fund school projects like this one."
Kautz outlined a project timeframe that has bidding on the project beginning in May 2010, with construction running from June 2010 through December 2011.
Following the presentation, Noah and the board discussed next steps, including building design concerns, the hiring of a construction manager and the acquisition of land. It will be August before details are clearer, but the background work will go on during the summer months. Paperwork for filing for the ballot must be turned in to the county clerk by Aug. 23.
Contact Kathy Fairchild at