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Bond sale returns $300K more than CFO anticipated

(June 19, 2015) Earlier in the month the Worcester County Commissioners empowered Treasurer Phil Thompson to enter the bond market to refinance old debt and pay for a few capital improvement projects to the tune of about $43 million, expecting between $800,000 and $850,000 in savings.

“If you see I have no fingernails left, [it’s] because the market has been up and down over the past few days,” Thompson told the commissioners Tuesday.

Thompson said his staff spent between 200 and 300 hours preparing for the bond issue. “It’s a lot of work and a difficult time of year to do it, since we just finished the budget process,” Thompson said. “We tried to schedule another time, but any savings would be worth going to market over.”

As bids were opened earlier in the week, it became clear that Worcester County’s traditionally conservative finance department had once again been conservative with its projections.

“We should save $1.1 million over the life of the bond issue,” Thompson said to a visibly pleased board of county commissioners, “about $600,000 of that will be realized in fiscal 2016.”

Thompson said the projects included in the $12 million capital improvement bond issue, called “A series,” are the Berlin rubble fill cap and closure project, which will close the operation, a new 800 MHz radio system for the Emergency Services department, financing for the construction of a new cell at the landfill and interconnections for the Mystic Harbour water and wastewater system, plus costs, fees and capitalized interest on the bonds.

The refinanced bonds will carry an interest rate of 2.716 percent.

The county is also pursuing $30 million in refunding bonds, called “B series,” which would essentially refinance old debt at a lower interest rate.

Included would be the 2007 refunding bonds, covering the Worcester Career and Technology Center construction and other public works projects, and 2008 capital improvement bonds for the Pocomoke High addition and renovation plus a loan from Taylor Bank financing the Ocean Pines Fire Protection system loan as well as fees, interest and other associated costs.

The net interest rate for these bonds is down to just 1.9 percent.

“I’m very thankful for the staff and the commissioners for supporting the bond sale,” Thompson said.

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