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ACGC will bond for long-term facility maintenance projects

Nels OnstadACGC Superintendent Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City1 / 2
Nels OnstadACGC Superintendent Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City2 / 2

GROVE CITY — A long list of overdue maintenance projects in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District will be funded with a $1.5 million bond.

The school board agreed last month to use a relatively new tool that allows school districts to issue bonds for long-term facilities maintenance revenue without going to the voters for approval.

ACGC will be the 65th Minnesota school district to use the program, approved in 2015 by the Legislature, which allows schools to implement the bonding process to "use money that was already going to be coming our way," said Superintendent Nels Onstad.

Districts already collect taxes every year for long-term maintenance facility projects and work is completed as funds are available.

Bonding for up-front money and doing several big projects at one time — rather than spreading them out over many years — will help preserve the school buildings, cause less disruption for custodial staff and students and reduce costs by having contractors on-site for multiple projects, Onstad said.

He said the bond will have a minimal impact on taxpayers and will actually mean a tax reduction for farmers because of the School Building Bond Agricultural Credit that was approved this year in the Legislature. The credit will pay for 40 percent of the taxes linked to the bonds on all types of agricultural land, excluding the house, garage and one acre of land, according to information provided by the district.

The credit is not available if the district does not issue bonds to finance the projects.

Onstad said he and the school board members are "very excited this will have such a great benefit to our communities at a very low cost to them."

The district's facilities committee will spend the upcoming months fine-tuning the list of projects with work to begin in 2018, Onstad said.

The board-approved, long-term facilities maintenance bonds can be used only for deferred maintenance projects that prevent further erosion of facilities, increase accessibility of school buildings or enhance health and safety needs.

The bonds cannot be used for new construction.

Onstad said many of the projects being considered for the bond will take place at the elementary school in Atwater.

Built in 1954, the building needs repairs to the roof, new doors and windows, tuckpointing on the exterior brick and an interior sprinkler system.

The roofs at the district's buildings in Grove City and Cosmos also need repairs.

Competitive bids for the bond will be opened Sept. 25. The bond, estimated at $1,485,000, will be repaid over a 10-year period.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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