LEE -- Town officials expect to save local taxpayers nearly $331,000 by refinancing the remaining debt on the Lee Elementary School project.
The Board of Selectmen has authorized the town's treasurer to allow PNC Capital Markets to purchase the $7.12 million in bonds left from the $12.6 million borrowed to pay for the school that was built more than a decade ago. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will continue to reimburse the town for 66 percent of the project's cost.
Treasurer Donna Toomey said PNC offered a 1.74 percent annual interest rate, the lowest percentage of the 12 financial institutions that bid on the bonds. The town had been paying a variable rate of 3 to 4 percent for the first 10 years of the loan.
The timing, she said, was ideal for the refinancing, which officially takes effect Oct. 15.
"The economic environment is good and we were halfway through the loan," Toomey said.
Town officials noted the estimated $331,000 in savings will be spread over the nine years left on the borrowing.
Lee Elementary School opened in January 2002 on the hill off Greylock Street behind Lee Middle and High School. It replaced the aging and outdated Lee Central School on High Street that dates back to the late 1880s. Lee Central has since been converted into housing for senior citizens.
The new prekindergarten through sixth-grade facility was part of a $25.5 million school building project that also included the renovation and expansion of Lee High to a Grades 7-12 campus.
Meanwhile, refinancing the school building debt has boosted the town's credit rating. Toomey says Standard and Poor's has upgraded Lee from AA minus to AA, the fourth highest bond rating on the S & P scale.
"The higher rating will be beneficial for any future borrowing by the town," Toomey said.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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