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Bennington School District currently has $178,000,000 in bond debt!

As a tax payer you have to weigh the current situation, the data, your prediction of the future and your level of risk when it comes to your property taxes, because the way the debt is structured at a $178M + another $153M, it is going to be a forever payment.

  • The district has only paid down $20+ Million in bond debt since 2003

  • 2nd Highest Tax Levy in the State.  This includes General Levy (currently set at the maximum allowed) + Building Fund levy since 2011

  • There is no cap to your bond tax levy. Meaning it could go above the "$.10 maximum". If the valuations fall short of 11% for the first five years (2023 to 2027), an 8% increase for the next six years after that (2028 to 2033) and a 5% increase until such bonds are retired 20+ years from now

  • Bennington has the highest Debt Ratio (aka leverage) in the State at 9-16%, well above state statute for a city in Nebraska

  • One of the highest Debt / Student ratio in the national for schools sized 1,000-10,000

  • 91% of the Total Valuation is Residential, only 4% Commerical

  • We have interest only debt schedules for many years and will have negative bond cash flow by 2028

  • We will issue bonds with interest payments just to pay on prior debt obligations

  • We will likely pay 2-3X’s more in interests and fees than the buildings themselves

  • Our school board / Superintendent has received many auditor reports on lack of internal controls, exceeding budgets

  • We have an underwriter that is not an advisor or fiduciary to Bennington per disclosures

For more indepth information on the current situation, please click here.


Data from the State Auditor Databases  

  • Data is a year old due to reporting timelines

  • Debt Ratio = Total Principal Outstanding over Total District Valuations

  • Total Debt Ratio = Total Principal + Interest Outstanding over Total District Valuations

  • As we all know Bennington's Debt Ratio is 9.5% right now (bottom red line).

  • Bennington's Total Debt Ratio (top red line).  

  • Look how well Blair (gray) manages their debt.  They start paying principal immediately.

  • Elkhorn (blue) also very consistent and keeps the Debt ratio always under 5% with all of their growth.  

  • Bennington (red) is a wreck.   The area between the two lines is how much interest we are paying in comparison to the principal.  The bigger the gap, the worse it is.  As info, Mark Byars joined the board in 2015 and is President and the head of the Finance Committee.

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