Jacob Bielanski Dec. 29, 2015, 9:33am


EDWARDSVILLE - The Country treasurer will purchase bonds from two more school districts in the area, putting the total investment by the county into area schools at more than $2 million.

Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler said in a press release that his office will purchase $572,442 and $486,576 in working cash bonds form the Alton and Triad School Districts, respectively, and is part of an initiative to invest the county’s money locally. The purchases come just two months after Prenzler announced the purchase of approximately $1.6 million in bonds from the Granite City School District.

According to a press release, deposits in local banks and bonds from the county have increased from $30 million to over $100 million as part of a policy strategy.

“The reason I’ve done that is, ‘a,’ it’s a good investment … and ‘b,’ it shows confidence in our geographic area and our economy locally,” Prenzler told the Madison County Record.

The Alton school board voted to approve its intent to issue $11 million in cash bonds in August.

The Triad School Board--which primarily covers Troy--approved issuance of $4.5 million in bonds last month. In April of this year, voters in the District approved a 50 percent tax increase at a public referendum, according to the Illinois Association of School Boards.

All state school districts are facing a reduction in state funds for the 2016 budget year.

Prenzler used the announcement as an opportunity to criticize the “backdoor referendums” that led to the issuance of the school bonds at both locations. Unlike neighboring Missouri and many other states, Illinois school boards, he said, do not have to put bond decisions to a public vote. The resulting tax increase is only voted on when more than 10 percent of the voters in a district submit signatures calling for a referendum.

“I believe taxpayers should be able to vote on any tax increase, because they are the ones who will be repaying the bonds,” Prenzler said in the release

Prenzler told the Record that both school district currently hold “A” bond ratings from Standard and Poor. The Triad bonds will yield 1.85 percent, while the Alton bonds will yield 1.95 percent. He told the Record, however, that the bonds' security are the main reason for their purchase. He said state law all but compels treasurers to favor security and liquidity over yield.

The money is part of a pool of roughly $149 million the county invests from 70 different combined funds, Prenzler told the Record. He said the office typically invests in a combination of federal bonds and CDs, and that this is the first year it has branched out into municipal bonds.

Penzler, a Republican, was elected to the position of treasurer in 2010. He announced in October that he would challenge the incumbent County Board Chairman, Alan Dunstan, in the November general election.

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