The Belgrade School Board has refinanced three bonds, locking in a new interest rate that will save taxpayers $564,491 over the life of the bonds.

In total, three bonds will be refinanced, one in the high school district from 2005 and two in the elementary school district from 2005 and 2009. The district will pay off the 2004 bond from the high school in 2015, so there was no need to refinance it.

The School Board voted last spring to allow the district to refinance the four bonds. The board worked with financial firm D.A. Davidson for the refinancing.

For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, the refinanced bond will save taxpayers $2.39 per year. Over the life of the bond, taxpayers with a $100,000 taxable value home will save $20.44.

Taxable value is not the same as market value. The taxable value of a home is generally much lower than the market value of a home.

District clerk Jay Bates said if Belgrade's population continues to grow, the tax base will also increase, further bolstering individual savings.

Belgrade Schools Superintendent Candy Lubansky said bonds are like mortgages. When homeowners want to lock in a better interest rate on their mortgage, they go to the bank to refinance. The district does the same with its bonds to save taxpayers money on school buildings.

Mill levies, on the other hand, are like the district's groceries, Lubansky said. Bond money cannot be used for mill levy needs. So while taxpayers will enjoy savings from the refinanced bonds, the district is still asking for mill levies to hire teachers, playground aides, food service staff and custodians. The district also needs to update curriculum materials across grade levels and beef up its online learning options.

The Belgrade Mill Levy Committee said this week that voters in both the elementary and high school districts could vote in favor of the two levies — $711,849 and $112,200, respectively — and pay about $1.25 in taxes per month for a home with a $100,000 taxable value.

Voters in only the high school district, Pass Creek residents for example, would see about a $1 savings on their tax bill, even if they do vote for the levy.

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