Lindbergh taxpayers to save $1.2 million with bond refunding

Seeking bids for bond sale key to its success, CFO says

By Mike Anthony

Lindbergh Schools taxpayers will save nearly $750,000 more than originally anticipated through refunding general obligation bonds issued by the district in 2003.

The Board of Education last week voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the sale of $9.07 million in general obligation bonds to Piper Jaffray of Kansas City, which submitted the lowest of 14 bids.

As originally proposed in early November, the refunding was projected to save taxpayers $500,000. The actual savings to taxpayers will be $1,244,242 — $744,242 more than anticipated, according to Chief Financial Officer Pat Lanane.

“… Using a little bit of a baseball analogy … sometimes you go up there and you’re just hoping for a solid base hit. Every once in a while not only does the ball go over the fence, it goes out of the park. And we do have some good news on our sale today …,” Lanane told the board.

Seeking bids for the bond sale contributed to its success, according to Lanane, who noted that most school districts sell bonds through a negotiated sale. The range between Piper Jaffray’s bid, which carried a true interest rate of 1.361 percent, and the highest bid totaled more than $468,000.

“Our principle has always been that whenever we can do an advance refunding and save the taxpayers money, we do it. And we’ve done many, many, many. In fact, tonight with the approval of this, that total will now go over $5 million,” Lanane said. “So we’re very pleased about that. And again, to reiterate the fact that the savings that we get from refunding and reselling the bonds accrues entirely — 100 percent — to the taxpayers. So this savings amount is an amount they will pay less in taxes than if we did nothing and just let this continue to their full maturity. So I think it behooves the district to do this whenever possible.”

He noted Lindbergh uses an independent financial adviser — Joy Howard of WM Financial Strategies — for its refundings.

“Many districts, in fact, most districts hire an underwriter not only to underwrite the bonds but to be (the) financial adviser,” he said. “So they structure the sale. They time the sale. They set all the parameters and then low and behold, they’ll negotiate for the sale with themselves, I guess. So I’m less than enthusiastic about that, but that is by far the most common method when selling general obligation bonds for school districts. We don’t do that.

“… One of the things I would say in regard to using a financial adviser, part of the success if you look at that is: Did you get bidders? Did people like the structure of the sale? We had 14 bidders today. That’s an almost unheard of number. So instead of one negotiated bidder, we had 14. We believe in a competitive, open sale. So among those 14, the range, the differential between the highest bid — the worst bid — and the lowest bid was $468,237.10,” he said.

“So if someone had just picked the high bid and said: ‘Well, we’re going to negotiate a price with you,’ that’s the kind of savings you might have missed with a negotiated sale …”

Howard attributed to the sale’s success to two factors — a 44-year low in interest rates and seeking competitive bids.

“… If you did look at that highest bid and the difference, that’s practically half of our savings that if we didn’t have a competitive sale, theoretically, we might have forgone …,” she said.

In a separate matter, the board approved a revised budget for the current school year that projects a surplus of $502,543 — $859,716 less than originally anticipated.

The revised operating budget projects revenues of $61,165,423 with anticipated expenditures of $60,662,880. The original operating budget, adopted in June, projected revenues totaling 60,797,763 with anticipated expenditures of $59,435,504 — a surplus of $1,362,259.