Bonds for Sale!

Re-1 school district pushes local purchase

It's safe to say Cortez is heavily invested in the new high school. Thousands of voters cast ballots for it last fall, hundreds lobbied for it, and countless others threw their goodwill behind the effort.

Those looking to contribute financially will soon have the chance, too.

Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 has announced that $1.89 million worth of general obligation bonds will soon be put up for sale and is encouraging local residents to take part.

"This project is for the community. If they want an opportunity to invest in it, they can," said chief financial officer Melissa Brunner.

The bonds are sold in increments of $5,000, with interest rates ranging from 1 to 3 percent annually over a 20-year maturation period. All purchases are exempt from state and federal taxes.

The bonds will be available from 8-10:30 a.m. on Feb. 6. Interested parties can contact Dan O'Connell, director of RBC Capital Markets in Denver, at 303-595-1222 the day prior to be forwarded to a salesperson.

O'Connell said local orders are given preference over non-local orders as long as they are at a comparable interest rate.

O'Connell described the bonds as a safe, if unspectacular, investment. With negligible risk, the repaid principal and interest are a virtual guarantee, even if they won't make an investor rich.

The state of Colorado's school bond program has a AA- credit rating from rating agency Standard & Poor's.

"It's called a state intercept rating. It means if the school was unable to pay the bonds back for some reason, the state would step in and make those payments on its behalf as a loan. The bondholders would still be made whole," O'Connell said.

The new M-CHS building will cost $42 million, of which Re-1 will pay just under half. Matching funds come from the state via a CDE Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant.

The lion's share of M-CHS bonds were packaged with other major infrastructure projects and sold to big investors in November. This $1.89 million is separate because it is earmarked for athletic fields, an expense not covered by the BEST grant. The district plans to build all athletic facilities adjacent to the new high school on the 35-acre site south of Walmart.

O'Connell and Brunner both touted the economic and intangible benefits of locals holding some of the bonds.

"If a local person buys $10,000 worth of bonds and earns interest on it, they may spend it locally, so it's recycling back into the community as opposed to going to someone in New York," O'Connell said.

lukeg@cortezjournal.com