Board approves $4.5 million bond sale

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales Municipal Schools Board members briefly celebrated a successful bond election at Tuesday’s regular meeting, then took action to put the wheels of that victory in motion.

The board gave unanimous approval to canvassed results of the election, then approved issuance and sale of $4.5 million in general obligation school bonds to aid in the construction of a new elementary school to replace the aging Steiner and Lindsey schools.

Al Clemmons of the investment firm George K. Baum and Company told the board that the market was still favorable and the bonds should be well received by the marketplace. He said they will likely carry an interest rate of 3.9 to 4.1 percent.

“You will have money in the bank right after the first of the year,” Clemmons said.

He explained that while voters approved $9.5 million in bonds, the district has four years to sell that entire amount. He said the $4.5 million would bring the district up to its current capacity while still providing enough to construct the school. As old bonds are retired, the remainder will be sold and applied to other needs in the district.

“You will be at virtually 100 percent of capacity for the next five years,” Clemmons said. “If for any reason you need to go back to the state for funding, you’ll be in good stead.”

He explained a district’s percent of bonded capacity is often a big measure of state funding availability.

Board member Mary Lou Rowley said she was somewhat concerned about whether or not the $4.5 million would be adequate or not.
Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler pointed Rowley to a funding analysis done by the school’s building committee.

“We’re being very conservative and very specific about what the public wants to the architects,” Fowler said.

The board also accepted an additional $100,000 in state money for designing the new Lindsey/Steiner Elementary School. The state money seeks to ensure that the design is as energy efficient as possible.