MENOMINEE - The Menominee School Board reported a positive financial development Friday as the district proved successful in selling and refinancing $3.485 million in refunding bonds. 

According to Superintendent Michael Cattani, the new bonds were purchased by J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, Inc. at an average interest rate of 1.58 percent, replacing bonds that had an average interest rate of 3.91 percent. 

Originating in 1990, the bonds financed previous school building and site improvements. In 2003 the bonds were refinanced, and they've now been refinanced again in order to take advantage of current low interest rates.

Cattani said that the complicated refinancing procedure was initiated by Randy Neelis, who was then serving as the interim superintendent.

According to Cattani, the district has a lot of bonds, and it was simply advantageous for the district to make a move with interest rates as low as they are. Cattani added that he's noticed numerous other school districts in the state have done likewise with their bonds.

"It's nice to be able to take advantage of continued very low interest rates and save our taxpayers some money," Cattani said, adding that the savings will be passed on to the benefit of district taxpayers in the years ahead in the form of reduced property taxes.

"The estimated millage savings for the first several years is .10 mils. So the for the taxpayer, that's .10 per $1,000 of taxable value," he explained.

In all, the seven-year refinancing transaction reduces the school district's future interest expense by $298,413.

And while Cattani admits it's not a tremendously huge amount, it still gives a little bit back to the taxpayers. "It's kind of like refinancing a house - if there's a lower rate, go for it," he said.

The refinancing marked Cattani's first major announcement since being handed over the reigns of superintendent from Neelis last month. Next week, Cattani will preside over his first regular school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Blesch Intermediate School library.

Cattani admits that stepping into his new job with so much going on and trying to figure out the things that were done before he assumed the role of superintendent has not been easy.

However, Cattani was quick to praise the job done by his predecessor and noted that Neelis will be there for him whenever advice is needed.

"He (Neelis) was wonderful, and he still is. I can call him or e-mail him and get an answer. He checks his school email daily and gets back if there's something. He has a vested interest in the district and he's not going to stop helping," Cattani explained.

As far as how the district's new leader is adjusting - Cattani said every day gets better and each day feels more comfortable than the day before.

"There's a lot of good people here, and everything is going to turn out fine," Cattani said.