Council, BOE compromise on Opp bond refinance

Published 2:05 am Tuesday, April 5, 2016

After nearly three months of negotiations, Opp Mayor John Bartholomew and Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart reached an agreement on who will get the proceeds from a bond refinance.

The two entities will split any proceeds from the refinance.

Opp City Schools has pledged $50,000 of its half to go toward repairing the awning at Channell-Lee Stadium.

Additionally, school system officials will be in charge of selecting the color scheme for the awning.

The city will pay for anything over $50,000 for the awning project.

Smithart said OCS will also proceed with its upgrades to technology infrastructure once the money has been received.

Bartholomew said the city would prioritize the public library and then the fire department if any money is left over.

“We worked on this compromise for several weeks,” Bartholomew said.

Under the resolution passed Monday, the 1 cent sales tax will still pay for the debt service on the bond issue and the school system will continue to put up 4 mill of their ad valorem tax as security.

“It is fair for city and fair for the schools,” Bartholomew said.

Smithart agreed.

“I’m glad that we could come to an agreement,” he said. “At the end of the day, it was about reaching a compromise while protecting our projects.”

Bartholomew said it will take about two or three weeks to get the bond rating back and be ready to go to the market to sell the bonds.

Councilmenn Mike Booth and Bobby Ray Owens both said they thought the school board should be on the resolution.

“Are you serious, gentlemen,” Bartholomew asked.

Bartholomew shared a text message from Smithart from Monday afternoon verifying he had been in contact with four of his five board members who were in favor. Later on Monday, he was able to get in touch with the fifth member, who gave support.

“It still has to be put to a resolution for the school board,” Bartholomew said. “This is just a step closer to the bond.”

Booth reminded Bartholomew that he questioned that because the city council could vote against what he recommended, which was also the case for the school board.

“You asked me to go and negotiate,” Bartholomew said. “I went and negotiated. Gentlemen, we need to move forward. This has been going on long enough.”

Councilman TD Morgan said he wanted to ensure that the money the city gets from the bond refinance is spent in the right places.

“I just can’t go out and spend the money,” Bartholomew said. “You are the legislative body.”

The resolution passed unanimously.