Bonds sold for new Hackberry school

By Cyndi Sellers

On Monday, Feb. 8, the Cameron Parish School Board approved a resolution providing for the issuance of $18 million of general obligation bonds for the construction of a new school in Hackberry, School District No. 15. Bond attorney Joseph Delafield reported that by waiting until January to sell the bonds the School Board was able to receive a low 2.89 percent interest rate and a premium of $2.3 million over the initial estimate. The high premium will cover the actual contract cost, which came in over the original budget.

Whitney Laird, who worked on the sale, said the longer than normal time frame was because prices in September were low but got better in December and January. She used the time to tell the Cameron Parish and Hackberry story to potential investors, increasing bidding activity. The low interest rate will save the School Board $70,000 annually in debt premiums. It remains to be seen if the low rate will translate into a lower millage for the bond payment tax in District 15, but it is a possibility.

Meanwhile, work has already begun on the new school. Last month, the Board approved deep foundation and site drainage work, and this month, the shallow foundation and underground utilities package was approved, at a cost of $2,158.211. The architect says the project is on budget and ahead of schedule.

Repair work is proceeding or being advertised for bid at all school sites. So far, the Board has incurred $45 million in invoices for remediation and repair work. Supt. Charley Lemons admitted to being aggravated, however, at the reluctance of the Board’s insurance company to begin paying for the work. He said the company says about half the amount is expected to be covered so far, but the only money to arrive was a $5 million advance right after the storms. He said he is reluctant to involve the District Attorney’s office, since that would only slow down the process, and the company has said it will start payments in the next 60 days.

To read the rest of this story, please see page three of the print edition of The Cameron Parish Pilot.