By DENNIS WYATT
Prudent management of Manteca Unified finances means taxpayers will save close to $1 million a year in interest for the issuance of $159 million in Measure G bonds that voters approved in November.
Bond underwriters today are selling the first $19 million in Measure G bonds plus refinancing $29 million in existing Measure M bonds issued last decade. The refinancing will reflect annual savings of “several dollars a year” for Manteca Unified property owners given the number of properties that the costs of the bonds are spread over.
MUSD Chief Business Officer Jacqui Breitenbucer noted both major bond raters — Standard & Poor plus Moody’s — have given the district the highest bond rating in the region for public school districts.
The S&P rating is AA while Moody’s gave the district an AA2 rating.
“They (the bond rating firms) told us it is unusual for California school districts to have such a high rating outside of the Bay Area,” noted District Superintendent Jason Messer.
He noted all savings will go toward reducing the financial obligation of taxpayers.
Breitenbucer noted that the new Measure G bond series means property owners will see an increase of $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation on next year’s tax bills. That translates to $150 annually for a home the county assessor values at $250,000.
“It (the charge per $100,000 in assessed valuation) will never go higher during the life of the bond,” Breitenbucer said.
Having high bond ratings is similar to having a high credit score above 800. It means lenders are not only more willing to loan you money but they do so at lower rates than someone who has a credit or bond rating that is lower. In the school district’s case, it means taxpayers over the 30 year life of the payback of the $159 million may avoid upwards of $30 million in interest.
The high bond rating is based on a number of factors including the district’s ending cash balances each year, their three-year budget, the stability of the upper management team at the district office, community growth, projected growth, assessed valuation, how teacher and employee salaries rank against other districts in the region, and how effective the district is at delivering on education goals.
Messer noted the rating, which represents a gain of one notch by Standard & Poor, came about even though a large chunk of the district that covers Weston Ranch is in Stockton. That city is coming out of bankruptcy.
Ultimately the district will be selling $54 million or a third of the approved bonds in the coming months to pay for modernizations for the initial five schools. Those campuses are Sequoia, Lathrop, Golden West, Lincoln, and Shasta elementary schools.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com