West Side News

New bond rating will save township thousands


Prairie Township will save thousands of dollars in building its community and recreation center after receiving a high financial rating from Standard & Poor's of New York.

Township trustees approved the issuance and sale of $10 million worth of bonds Aug. 8 to construct and furnish the center.

Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said officials learned the township had received an AA rating from Standard and Poor's after trustees met with representatives of the national financial services company.

Hatmaker said the company's representatives were impressed with the township's vision.

"The township made a strong case for a higher rating and we were successful," Hatmaker said.

Township Financial Adviser Brian Cooper, of Rockmill Financial, told trustees the rating will save the township thousands of dollars in interest costs.

"We knew that if we had a strong rating, we could save the township over $325,000 over the life of the debt," Cooper said. "With an AA rating, we are able to save about $650,000. We are very pleased."

The report from Standard and Poor's cites "very strong general fund reserves" and "good management practices" by the township.

"We are happy to see that our conservative fiscal policies are paying off," Trustee Steve Kennedy said. "These policies have provided a good foundation for our future prosperity in this community."

Trustee Doug Stormont said the township is now stronger financially than it has ever been. This is due, in part, to voter approval of a Joint Economic Development Zone that allows the township to capture new revenue from its business district.

"We now look forward to seeing the community center coming out of the ground. We have been focused on it for a long time," Stormont said.

"This rating will also help the Prairie Township trustees to invest in the future of the township while maintaining fiscal restraint," Trustee Ron Ball said.

Groundbreaking is scheduled this fall for the community and recreation center, trustees said.

The 40,000-square-foot building will be located along West Broad Street near the Kroger store and will boast a gymnasium, multipurpose room, a pool and fitness center and will also be home to the senior center.

Fiscal Officer Dan McCardle said township trustees have been working toward their vision of making real investments in the community within the framework of conservative fiscal policies for a long time. "They are achieving it," McCardle said.

The township plans to sell bonds the week of Aug. 19.