R-3's major building project receives favorable interest rates

The interest rates for Platte County R-3’s major capital improvement project continued to come in better than expected, and the district’s investment banker will lock in a favorably low figure next month.During a special board of education meeting on Wednesday, July 22, Richard G. Bartow — executive vice president with George K. Baum & Company — announced that the market rate would be 3.85 percent. He credited the financing process to R-3’s strong financial standing and indicated this should allow the district to avoid the need to refinance these lease purchase bonds during its 20-year life span. Many of R-3’s recent projects were refinanced in later years as interest rates became more favorable.

“We’ve hit the market at a good time,” Bartow said. “Together with the market and the name of Platte County R-3, we have been able to secure what we think are very aggressive interest rates with a very aggressive call feature.

“Folks, I kind of say this is the worst case scenario.”

The financing for about $29 million worth of projects designed to deal with enrollment growth, which received voter approval in the April general municipal election, will be finalized on Aug. 20. The construction of a new elementary school in Platte City serves as the centerpiece of the plan along with renovations and improvements at Paxton School and Pathfinder Elementary in the southern portion of the district.

The low interest rates should allow the district some savings that can be used toward other capital improvement projects.

“It’s always good to save money,” board member Lenora Miles said.

The board also approved contractor bids for the Pathfinder Elementary renovations, which were estimated at about $4 million.

Manning Construction selected the lowest bidder for all but two parts of the project — landscaping and asphalt. The second-lowest bid was accepted in both cases due to a submission error from a vendor leading those bids to be inadequate or withdrawn. Only two portions of the project will be sent out for rebid — a hydraulic elevator and food service equipment.

Almost half of the contractors will be the same as the ones chosen for the new elementary in Platte City.

“I was pleased with the amount of attention the project got, especially you are always concerned about smaller projects especially bidding a little bit later in the year,” Reik said. “We got pretty good interest and consequentially pretty good pricing.”

Work will begin as soon as possible, according to Manning project manager Daniel Foye.

Construction will take place on the Pathfinder property through the school year, and Reik hopes to keep interruptions and distractions to a minimum. Officials with Manning will remain in contact with building administrators, and protocols are in place to deal with situations, including any possible emergency scenario.

“If there’s a testing day — we build with schools a lot, so we can work around that to some extent,” Foye said. “If we really have to do some demolition, we’d like to do that at night or a weekend because obviously this building is for education. We’re not going to hinder that, but at the same time, we have work to do.”

Currently, bids have the overall projects under budget, but Reik warned that unforeseen complications can wipe that out. However, he noted that he’d much rather be in this spot than having to look at cost-saving measures at this point.