School debt refinancing saves county $340,000 annually

School debt refinancing saves county $340,000 annually

By David Barkholz

Dickson County is refinancing a $40 million school bond debt at much lower interest rates, saving taxpayers about $340,000 annually in interest costs.

The county has secured an interest rate of 2.6% on the bonds from First Tennessee Bank vs. the 3.97% it had been paying, said Don Hall, Dickson County Director of Accounts & Budgets.

“That’s a nice Christmas present for the taxpayers of Dickson County,” said Mayor Bob Rial Monday as he presided over the last official commission meeting of 2019.

The county borrowed the $40 million in 2017 through a private bond placement with the bank for school construction and improvement projects, Hall said.

The 3.97% interest rate was more than the county had hoped to obtain at the time but less than the 5% that was originally projected for the borrowing, he said.

In October, however, bond-rating agency Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings elevated Dickson County’s bond rating from AA- to AA based on the county’s strong budget performance in fiscal 2018-2019.

That gave Dickson County additional leverage with First Tennessee Bank, now known as First Horizon, to refinance the $40 million bond debt at a lower rate, Rial said.

The savings over the term of the bonds will total about $6.4 million, he said.

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