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Charter board OK's sale of $11M in bonds for construction of new school building

At its monthly meeting, Aug. 23, the board of the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy approved plans to sell $11 million in bonds for the construction of its future home within Algiers’ Federal City development.

Though negotiations and lawsuits are still underway between some of the key parties involved in Federal City, NOMMA faced an Aug. 28 deadline for issuing a bond-purchase agreement.

NOMMA’s lawyer, Jacob Capraro, said he would not normally advise a client to complete a bond agreement before a lease was signed, but in this case he saw it as necessary.

“Fair is fair.  We’re on our second extension,” NOMMA Commandant Col. Bill Davis said.

The school has fought an uphill battle to plan for its long-term future amid the uncertainty surrounding Federal City.

“This is what’s going on in Federal City,” board president Col. Terry Ebbert said of the planned construction.  “There really isn’t anything else going on in Federal City right now.” Ebbert said he expected a “realignment” after the resolution of lawsuits among parties involved in the development.

The bond purchase agreement authorizes NOMMA to sell $11 million in Louisiana Local Government  Environmental Facilities and Community Development Authority revenue bonds.  Davis said that the school expects to sell its bonds Oct. 12-13.

Capraro said a portion of the school’s revenue stream for the next 22 years would be dedicated to the bond agreement.

“You have to keep your charter.  That’s what it really comes down to,” said Troy Villafarra, whose company, Crescent Growth Capital, is handling the bond sale. He said that he expects NOMMA to receive around $6.9 million in tax credits based on the historic value of the project.

Davis said parties involved in Federal City had only two to three weeks to apply for tax credits based on historic value. The Algiers Development District had reservations about seeking historic status, but securing the designation is not as onerous as they think, he said.

Davis said that HRI Properties, the project developer, could benefit by as much as $10-$11 million from  Federal City being declared a historic district.

Davis gave members a tour of NOMMA’s new building.  He explained modifications to the facility’s kitchen, and showed board members the band room and front office.

The board also passed a new budget at Davis’ request, rather than amend the one passed in April. Because of legal requirements placed on charter school boards, he said he felt more comfortable redoing the budget entirely.

Davis also drew members’ attention to changes in insurance costs from last year. “We had a reality check there,” he said. “That $8,000 was not correct from last year.”  The new budget for the 2012-2013 school year budgets $70,000 for insurance, to cover its larger building and free-standing auditorium.

The school also adjusted its budget to reflect an enrollment that now stands at “221 on paper, today,” according to Davis. He said  another 11 students have applied without yet confirming whether they will attend.

Present in addition to Ebbert were board members Carol McCall, Capt. Dave Whiddon, Courtney Bagneris, Dr. Marcellus Grace, James Reiss, Eades Hogue, Maj. Blake LeMaire, and Maj. General Walter Paulson.  Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman was absent.

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