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Scappoose schools to owe less on bond repayment

Taxpayers to pay less on debt from 2008 levy

The outstanding amount owed by the Scappoose School District to pay off a capital bond issue approved by voters in 2008 will decrease under a new financial arrangement, the school district’s business manager told the Spotlight.

Mitch Neilson said a bond refunding has shaved about $1.05 million off the $25.2 million the district currently owes on the bond repayment.

The school district won’t keep the extra money, Neilson said. Instead, the 3.67 percent savings will benefit taxpayers, who will see a reduction in the property taxes they pay to retire the bond debt.

“By refunding and issuing new bonds, we were able to save taxpayers $1.05 million,” Neilson said.

He explained, “The simplest way to put it is this is kind of the equivalent of refinancing your house. ... Took out a loan for your house, it was X number, interest rates dropped and you decided to refinance your house, and we refinanced our house. The difference is, we don’t get any extra money to spend as a district. These are savings that go directly to the taxpayers. The district gets nothing extra out of it.”

Voters approved the $33.3 million bond issue in 2008 to pay for a new Otto Petersen Elementary School building, as well as additions to Scappoose High School and renovations at Warren Elementary School, among other capital improvements.

Neilson framed the bond refunding as an opportunity for the district to show support for members of the community who supported it by passing the levy in 2008.

“We could have left it alone and just left it as status quo and not gone through the process, but we recognized an opportunity to do what was best for the citizens and what was best for kids,” Neilson said.

The bonds are being repaid over a 20-year timeframe. They are scheduled to be completely paid off by 2029 — a target date not affected by the refunding transaction, Neilson said.