Janesville51.9°

Referendum asks voters to approve refinancing

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Kevin Hoffman
October 27, 2010
— A referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot could save the Whitewater School District more than half a million dollars and allow much-needed funds to be spent elsewhere within the school system, district officials said.

The district will ask approval to refinance its loan with Wisconsin Trust Fund. It's paying 5.5 percent interest, but the economy's condition is giving administrators the opportunity to lock in at 2.5 percent.


That would save the district about $565,000 in interest payments and fully payoff the bond by 201410 years earlier than expected.


The Whitewater Unified School District in 2004 took the $2.1 million loan and makes annual payments of $182,000.


Business Manager Jim Strasburg said those payments would be reassigned to the general operations expenditures.


Three public sessions were scheduled by District Administrator Suzanne Zentner to provide additional information about the referendum. The final meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday at the district office.


Strasburg said the only drawback to paying off the loan earlier is extending the district's other debt service by about two years. However, approval would create more flexibility within the state revenue cap.


The school district previously had a second referendum question on the ballot, asking to exceed the state's revenue cap for another five years. It was removed after the district was awarded $617,241 through the federal education jobs bill.


School board members said drawing additional tax revenue after receiving the award would send the wrong message to taxpayers.


The revenue cap referendum could resurface as early as next year, depending on the district's financial needs.



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