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Selectmen Hear About Bond Refunding, New Grants

Published: February 08, 2019 at 07:15 am

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During its regular meeting February 4, the Board of Selectmen learned that Town Finance Director Robert Tait has finalized plans for offering bonds for sale and a planned refunding of bonds that he said would generate nearly a quarter million dollars in interest savings.

During his report to the board, Mr Tait said he is engaging a competitive bond sale for $10.4 million on February 26, which will cover costs for previously approved capital projects.

He is also planning to conduct a refunding on $6,475,000 in existing bonds that have 14 years remaining on their repayment schedule.

The finance director told The Newtown Bee following the meeting that the estimated interest savings will be $240,000. That savings will be applied to smooth debt service in certain future fiscal cycles where there are spikes in interest costs.

According to the Government Finance Officers Association, bond refundings are most commonly used by state and local governments to achieve savings on interest costs. Refunding bonds can also be issued to remove or revise burdensome bond covenants or to restructure debt service payments.

Ahead of the bond offering, Newtown will undergo a bond rating review by Standard & Poor’s (S&P), which currently provides the community a AAA rating — the equivalent of a perfect credit score.

Mr Tait said S&P has requested to review three years of financial statements.

“There’s nothing but good news in there,” he told selectmen, referring to the financials. He said S&P will also request a review of economic development, which will be handled by Christal Preszler, Newtown’s Deputy Director of Economic & Community Development.

Mr Tait said he has asked S&P to send him any questions they may need answered in advance, so he can prepare responses ahead of the review call. Those questions and responses will be provided to selectmen at their planned February 19 meeting.

Selectmen also reviewed and unanimously accepted several grant distributions during the meeting:

*A Sandy Hook Trauma Recovery Initiative (VOCA) federal grant in the amount of $622,971, that includes a town and pass through agency match of $124,594. The grant period is from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020;

*A Highway Safety Grant for $21,500 to the Newtown Police Department to cover increased distracted driving enforcement;

*A Highway Safety Grant for $23,383 to the Newtown Police Department to cover ongoing training and travel costs for the department’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and to increase the number of trained DREs and local instructors; and

*A $1,600 In A Heartbeat Foundation grant to acquire an automatic external defibrillator for the new community center.

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