Willmar School Board meets Wednesday to sell bonds for building program
WILLMAR -- The Willmar School District has received a favorable bond rating for the sale of $50.03 million in bonds this week. Moody's Investors Service said in a news release that the district has a rating of "Aa3 underlying and Aa2 enhanced." T...
WILLMAR - The Willmar School District has received a favorable bond rating for the sale of $50.03 million in bonds this week.
Moody’s Investors Service said in a news release that the district has a rating of “Aa3 underlying and Aa2 enhanced.” The enhanced rating comes from the district’s ability to issue bonds through the Minnesota School District Credit Enhancement Program.
The Willmar School Board will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. The primary purpose of the meeting is to approve the sale of the bonds. Bids on the bonds will be opened Wednesday morning.
The bonds will be used to pay for a new elementary school, new science classrooms at Willmar Middle School and new gymnasium space at Willmar Senior High.
In addition, remodeling and maintenance projects are planned in all buildings of the district.
The voters approved the sale of the bonds in a May 19 referendum.
Pam Harrington, the district’s business and finance director, said that Ehlers, the district’s financial adviser, is very pleased with the rating.
According to a news release from Moody’s, the rating “reflects the district’s moderately sized and appreciating tax base that serves as the regional hub for west central Minnesota; solid financial position with sound satisfactory levels; and an above average debt burden.”
The state’s credit enhancement program provides additional security for the debt, according to the news release.
The district does not necessarily need its own bond rating since the bonds are issued under the state program, Harrington said. However, the bond rating agencies still like to learn about the community where the bond proceeds will be spent.
She said school district representatives spoke on the phone for an hour with Moody’s in late June.
The Moody’s representatives asked about the local economy and about major public or private institutions in the community. They looked at taxable market value and looked at the district’s audit reports and fund balance.
In talking about the local economy, “we had to mention the avian flu,” she said, but diversity in the community’s economy was also addressed.
The agenda for Wednesday’s meeting includes three actions related to the bond sale. The board is scheduled to review bids and award the bond sale, based on recommendations from its financial adviser. Also on the agenda is approval of a new policy spelling out how the proceeds of the bond sale will be handled in compliance with law and also approval of an agreement with an asset management firm to hold and invest the bond proceeds until needed by the district.
After taking care of the bond sale, the board plans to close the meeting to discuss negotiations for land that would be the site of a new elementary school. Three sites in southeast Willmar were discussed at a previous board meeting.
The Minnesota Open Meeting Law allows meetings to be closed for that purpose. The actual land sale must take place at an open meeting.