Federal bond would help fund improvements to all 10 Bangor schools

Posted March 09, 2012, at 8:06 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Just how far will $2.8 million go these days? According to the Bangor School Department, it will pay for 55 needed projects at all 10 schools.

The Bangor City Council’s finance committee on Tuesday approved a Bangor School Department request to issue $2.8 million in bonds to pay for various construction, repairs and upgrades.

If the City Council accepts the recommendation, Bangor will start the projects as early as June.

“This particular bond will allow us to address a lot of things all at once, and many of them have been put off from prior years that really can use the work,” said Alan Kochis, director of Business Services for the school department. “Over time, most of them would have had to be done eventually, but you can’t defer roofs and safety issues.”

At the top of the projects list is a new water main at Mary Snow School, the third-oldest school in the system. The oldest is Fairmount School, which was built in 1918.

“The school was built in 1920 and the main is an old cast-iron pipe that’s about 100 years old and very thin,” Kochis said.

Other projects include a new roof at Abraham Lincoln School, the newest Bangor school at 38 years old; exterior security cameras at Abraham Lincoln, Downeast, Fairmount, Fourteenth Street, Fruit Street and Mary Snow schools; a new boys bathroom and library carpet at Bangor High; new siding at Downeast School; handicapped access to athletic fields and new windows at Doughty Middle School; new bathrooms at Vine Street; and a new roof at the William S. Cohen School.

This is the last year of the federal Qualified School Construction Bond program, which allows the school department to issue Qualified School Construction Bonds, which are sold to investors. The federal government will reimburse the school department all or most of the interest cost.

Last year, Bangor got a $5.5 million Qualified School Construction Bond at 0.01 percent interest. The money was used to replace Bangor High School’s roof with a new rubber membrane roof warranted for 30 years and do $3.6 million in heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at all 10 schools.

“The opportunity to borrow money at a zero interest rate doesn’t come along very often,” Kochis said. “The other nice thing about this bond is we can structure the debt service to meet our needs.”

The bond is paid back over a 15-year period.

“We’re structuring the debt service so that as our existing debt pays off, we pay more on this bond, and the city’s overall debt service doesn’t increase,” said Kochis.

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