West Metro saves money for taxpayers

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The West Metro Fire District has found a way to save district taxpayers $2 million through a new interest rate on bond money and through department efficiency.

On April 18 the district refinanced $22,970,000 of District General Obligation debt, and brought the interest cost down from 5.17 percent to 2.33 percent. The lower rates means taxpayers will pay significantly less on the debt.

The bond should be paid in full by 2026.

According to information from the district, the refinancing will reduce property taxes that would have otherwise gone to higher debt service on the original bond.

A total of 14 investors purchased the bonds of the District, including mutual funds and insurance companies, retail investors and trust departments and money managers who purchase bonds for their clients’ portfolios.

“Back in 2006 we did a bond election for $43 million, and went to the voters to have have the sale of the bonds so we could do some capital projects,” said the district’s chief, Don Lombardi. “We had commissioned a blue ribbon committee of local leaders to get input, and they came up with areas where we were deficient and needed to address.”

According to Lombardi, the bond money went to projects repairing and remodeling fire stations; the purchase of three firefighting trucks and two ambulances; the purchase of firefighting equipment, such as thermal imaging equipment, and communications equipment, such as an advanced emergency 911 system; construction of a training center; and purchase of land and buildings previously leased by the district.

“Not only did we get everything done we needed to, but we did it under budget,” he said. “That something that I’m extremely proud of, and now we can look to other projects.”

Vicki Mattox, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus financial services, has worked with West Metro for many years, and helped them to negotiate the lower interest rate.

“We monitored the interests rates to find a place where it would make sense to restructure, and we saw a decrease in rates, so we were able to renegotiated the debt,” she said. “West Metro is a very well run district, and that was recognized, which gave them a high rating.”

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