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Lower interest rate on 2002 library bonds will pay off

Jackson County will save taxpayers $472,573 over the next 10 years by securing a lower interest rate on library bonds issued in 2002.

This is the second time the county has obtained lower interest-rate bonds for the voter-approved, $38.9 million bonds used to remodel and build new libraries throughout the county.

In 2006, the county got a lower interest rate and saved $2.1 million over the life of the bonds.

The library construction ended under budget last summer, saving an additional $800,000, which was used to offset debt payments.

In total, the county has shaved almost $3.5 million from projected costs.

The county has two sets of bonds that are being paid off by voters. The 2006 bonds amount to $12.5 million and the 2002 bonds total $12.4 million. They are scheduled to be paid off by June 1, 2020.

The county received better interest rates on the latest refinancing of bonds because of market conditions and a high rating from Moody's Investors Service.

The county's bonds were sold in less than an hour.

In 2000, the county received the highest bond rating of any jurisdiction in Jackson County's history when it sold the first half of the $38.9 million in bonds that voters approved for libraries. The favorable rating, comparable to a credit score, lowered the interest rate and saved taxpayers $1 million in interest payments over the life of the bonds.

In a separate action, the county saved $24 million over a five-year span by outsourcing operation of the libraries to Library Systems and Services LLC, a Maryland-based library management company.

The 14-branch library system closed for six months in 2007 when the county found itself in financial trouble.

As a result, the county decided to outsource library operations, though for reduced hours.

The county initially expected to have only enough money to keep libraries open for three years. However, the county's financial health improved and the libraries remain open.

Any money the county saved from the bonds cannot legally be used for the operation of the libraries.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.