The Orono school board approved the sale of general obligation facilities maintenance bonds at its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Nov. 8.

The board approved a resolution at is meeting on Sept. 27 that authorized the district administration, its municipal advisors, and a board officer to take proposals and execute the sale of bonds for the sole purpose of facilities maintenance.

Those bonds were sold for $1.44 million to Hilltop Securities on Nov. 8, and the board approved the sale at the board meeting later that evening.

Greg Crowe, of Ehlers Public Finance Advisors, told the board that they received three bids for the bonds and the winning bid from Hilltop Securities came with the lowest interest rate of 1.05 percent.

Crowe said the interest rate was lower than they anticipated, which allowed the district to borrow a little more than they first thought while also saving money.

“Doing it at that interest rate actually ended up with about $5,000 less in interest costs than we had projected at the time of the pre-sale,” Crowe said. “The favorable rates allowed us to borrow a little more but pay less interest than we anticipated at the $1.3 million amount.”

The board was ecstatic with the low interest rate and board member Mike Bash suggested maybe they could use that savings to lower the tax levy in December when they approve the final tax levy for 2022.

“This is a great outcome of this,” Bash said. “With this ability to borrow a little bit more it will give us the chance to look at the possibility of slightly reducing our levy when we set the final levy, not necessarily, but it gives us the opportunity to look at that when we make the final decision in December. Something we have the option to look at.”

Crowe broke down the numbers for Bash and the board on the possibility of lowering the tax levy with the bond sale savings.

When the board approved the sale of bonds for facilities maintenance and indoor air quality improvements on Sept. 27, the board also approved the preliminary tax levy with an increase of 5.25 percent.

In that preliminary tax levy, the board had $90,000 for indoor air quality improvement, Crowe said.

With the increase in the bond sale, the board can remove that $90,000 from the budget and that would drop the tax levy down to 4.5 percent, Crowe said.

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