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School bond refi redux

January 16, 2013 - Assistant superintendent of business and finances John Fitzgerald went back to the Orion School board with a new take on school bond refinancing.

As reported in the Dec. 19 Lake Orion Review, the school board had previously announced intentions to refinance its school bond and save taxpayers millions in the process.

But then Attorney General William Schuette interfered, and put a hold on all school bond refinancing in the state, effectively denying Orion "taxpayers the opportunity to relieve $12 million of debt obligation and debt service," Fitzgerald said at the Dec. 12 school board meeting.

However, the Michigan legislature passed two school bond reform bills during the lame duck session that appear to have over-ridden Schuette's concerns.

One of the positive benefits in the new bills for Orion is the date for determining the taxable value in the district has been pushed forward to May.

The delay ends up working in Orion's favor, since the district's taxable base for 2014 is expected to rise by 1.3 percent.

With the new metric in place, possibilities for refinancing the school bond look good. Fitzgerald was cautiously optimistic, but he said the new legislation "reopens the opportunity to go after the tax reduction."

If the forecasts are correct, Fitzgerald expects the tax savings to be in the $12 million neighborhood as originally anticipated.

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