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VIDEO | Finance Director explains nearly $106 million in total referendum debt and interest for West Bend School District

March 17, 2019 – West Bend, WI – There were experts available at the open house in Jackson to tour the Elementary School and ask questions about the upcoming April 2 referendum.

Andy Sarnow is the newest finance director in the West Bend School District. He explained the facts regarding the remaining referendum debt and interest from Badger and Silverbrook referendums and then calculated the grand total should the total $74 million referendum pass in April.

-“We still have debt existing,” said Sarnow. “The existing debt we have to pay off over the next 10 years (2028) is approximately $28 million. The additional interest over the next 10 years is approximately $3.5 million.”

“So about $32 million to $33 million left to pay for Badger and Silverbrook referendum.”

-“So as we look at the authority that the referendum is to issue $47 million in bonds the projection at this point in time, and it’s conservatively high… we’re using 4.25 percent, recent issues are lower than that, but at 4.25 percent it’s $27 million in interest that will be paid over the life of the bond over the next 19 years (2038) and that total is $74 million,” said Sarnow.

-“Badger and Silverbrook are about $28 million to $29 million plus the interest we said was about $4.5 million,” said Sarnow.

$32 million (Badger and Silverbrook) + $74 million (April 2 referendum) is about $106 million total to be paid off should the April 2 referendum pass. 

-Can you add that up for me? “$74 million and $32 million…. do you have a calculator? I know you have one on your phone,” said Sarnow.

– “That’s not how it’s commonly referred to,” said Sarnow regarding the word ‘debt.’

– “You go to a bank and you take out a mortgage for $200,000 to buy a home and you are $200,000 in debt. Does that mean you’re not paying any interest? No, you’re paying interest…. so I don’t want to say we’re ‘in debt $106 million’ that is the amount we will be repaying to be debt free.”


History on current referendums in West Bend School District

Taking a look at the current referendums the West Bend School District is paying off….

In April 2009, voters in West Bend approved a $29.3 million plan to renovate, as well as build an addition to Badger Middle School.

In November 2012 the West Bend School District passed a $22.8 million referendum to close Barton Elementary School, expand Silverbrook School and add classrooms and a gym at Green Tree Elementary School. The actual total cost of the referendum with taxes and interest was $31.975 million with a 15-year payback on borrowing.

After the Nov. 2012 referendum passed the $31.9 million total was added on top of the $29.3 million payment for the 2009 Badger referendum.

According to Baird “As of January 14, 2019 the District has principal debt outstanding” including $29,420,000 from Fund 39 referendum and Fund 38 non-referendum approved debt of $5,011,000.

The target date to completely pay off the debt and interest on current referendums is 2028.

The April 2 referendum would extend over 19 years to be paid off in 2038.


April 2 referendum question

Shall the West Bend Joint School District Number 1, Washington County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $47,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and improvement program consisting of: construction of a new Jackson Elementary School; safety, security, building infrastructure, technical education and engineering lab improvements, remodeling and capital improvements at the High School; and acquisition of related furnishings, fixtures and equipment?


On a history note: Below is a list of some of the heads of the finance department in the West Bend School District over the past three years. Brittany Altendorf held the position for six years until 2017 and after that four people in the post including two three-month spans where Tim Stellmacher filled in before the next person was hired.

July 2011 – July 2017​​​ Brittany Altendorf

August 2017 – March 2018 ​​CESA 5 (Dave Van Spankeren)

April 2018 – July 2018 ​​​Tim Stellmacher

April 2018 – December 2018​​ Karen Herman

January 2019 – mid March 2019​​ Tim Stellmacher

February 18, 2019 – current​​ Andy Sarnow  March 8, 2019

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Horicon Bank


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