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Selectboard approves financing plan for new ladder truck

BRATTLEBORO—The Selectboard and Finance Committee recently took a big step forward toward filling the Brattleboro Fire Department’s request for a new aerial ladder truck.

In March, Representative Town Meeting voted to buy the $950,000 truck with $450,000 from the town’s cash reserves and $500,000 in loans.

Since then, members of the Finance Committee researched debt options.

At the May 15 regular Selectboard meeting, the Board heard the committee’s recommendations for financing the purchase of the apparatus.

Finance Director John O’Connor said his staff applied to the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank. They issue bonds in July, but, O’Connor noted, “they don’t really know the [interest] rate” in May for a bond the town will receive months later.

The only information the town can get right now from the bond bank, O’Connor said, “is an indicative rate [...] on a 10-year bond at this point in time,” which is 2.547 percent.

O’Connor and his staff also collected interest rates from lending institutions in town, he said, because “banks can be a lot more flexible” than the bond bank with repayment schedules and pre-pay options. He noted there is no borrower refinance option with the bond bank. “You’re stuck with it,” said O’Connor, unless the bond bank wants to refinance the loan.

Of the four banks the committee researched — Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Community Bank, People’s Bank, and TD Bank — all allowed for pre-payment, and the Savings and Loan’s rates were the lowest. They offered the town a 10-year note with a fixed rate of 2.32 percent.

“That’s pretty amazing” for a loan of that duration, O’Connor said, especially “in this rate environment now, where we’re seeing those rates go up."

In addition to recommending the town go with Brattleboro Savings & Loan, O’Connor suggested the Selectboard authorize his staff to withdraw their application to the bond bank.

“I think this will work out very well for us,” O’Connor said.

The Selectboard agreed, unanimously voted to accept O’Connor’s recommendations, and thanked him and his staff — and Brattleboro Savings & Loan — for their work.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #460 (Wednesday, May 23, 2018). This story appeared on page A3.

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