School board sets bond cap

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 11:06


In an effort further acknowledging the state’s current fiscal crisis, the Anchorage School Board approved a bonded debt cap of 2.5 percent of the total assessed property value within the Municipality of Anchorage for future district construction at its Monday, March 21 regular meeting.

“We want to make sure we are making sound financial decisions regarding the bond proposals for the future,” Kameron Perez-Verdia, board president, said. “We also want to make sure that future bonds pass, so we are looking intentionally at appropriate guidance.”

The bond debt cap represents the first such move by the ASD board which in the past has been hesitant to limit the district’s construction and facilities personnel to a bonding (spending) cap.

It is a voluntary limitation, current board members point out, stating that it is one that future boards could change if necessary.

As it stands, the board’s action means the district will keep its total bond debt from past bonds approved by the voters and future bonds still up for vote at less than $900 million. That is the 2.5 percent target based from current assessed property value in the Municipality of Anchorage of $35.7 billion. To account for fluctuations and in an attempt to remain below the upper limit, board members instructed district construction and facilities personnel to aim for a two percent target that would provide the district with a bond debt budget of approximately $715 million.

Based on past district information, the target is one that could end up being a bulls-eye.

According to Heidi Embley, ASD chief communications director, the ASD had a bond debt of $601.4 million in its June 30, 2015 audited financial statement.

The district faces pending renovations of a few aging buildings – Gruening Middle School in Eagle River, included – that were removed from the bond package up for vote on April 5. Adding to its facilities maintenance woes is the damage to the Romig Middle School/West High library and the Romig gymnasium caused by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 24. Seismic upgrades to the Romig/West library are included in the April 5 bond vote and were scheduled to begin summer 2016 pending voter approval.

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