DeKALB – The DeKalb school board took the final step Tuesday in their decade-long repayment plan to pay down $108 million in bond debt from a 2009 referendum to build DeKalb High School and Cortland Elementary School.
The District 428 School Board unanimously approved a plan to put $10 million from the district’s working cash fund, along with a $5 million property tax relief grant from the Illinois State Board of Education, to pay down the principal on 2009 bonds, documents show. The final step is the 2010 bonds, which are callable July 1 and can be refunded in April.
The payment plan will save DeKalb taxpayers from having to pay $7 million in bond interest, board member Jeromy Olson said.
“That’s literally money that taxpayers would have paid had we not done this,” Olson said. “So that’s pretty massive savings. Pretty exciting.”
District 428 Business and Finance Director Cynthia Carpenter said paying down the principal helps the district keep their tax rate “flat” for taxpayers.
Board President Samantha McDavid said paying bond ahead of time alleviates interest growth that the district would have had to tackle if they continued to making smaller payments in the short term.
Carpenter said it’s a good time for taking on fiscal goals.
“Right now, historically, bond rates are quite low,” Carpenter said. “So this is a good time to be in the market.”
In April, the board also agreed to set aside $3 million to pay down the principal from 2009 bonds using money from the city’s tax increment finance district known as TIF 2 when it expired Dec. 31, 2018. At the end of 2016, about $9.3 million of bond debt was restructured in order to level out future debt payments.
Tuesday’s vote will pay down 2010 bonds in relation to the restructuring, part of an approved plan the district discussed in September.
Between 2008 and 2011, the district issued four referendum-approved bonds that totalled $110 million to finance DeKalb High School, repurposing the old high school building into Huntley Middle School, 1515 S. Fourth St., and renovating Cortland and Founders elementary schools. The district has been tackling ways to restructure the bond interest ever since.