Weatherford Democrat

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December 11, 2012

Court approves final sale of transportation bonds

PARKER COUNTY — Parker County commissioners Monday authorized the sale of $18.9 million in Texas Unlimited Tax Road bonds with an effective interest rate of 3.1 percent, a record or near-record low. The series 2013 bonds are the last of the $80 million issue approved by voters in 2008. The first bonds — worth $60 million — were issued in 2009.

“We are near the end of our projects, and we’re near the end of our money, and we need the balance of $20 million to finish out,” Judge Mark Riley explained to those in attendance. “This will primarily go to the (Interstate 20) interchange with the Western Loop. Construction will start on that after the first of the year.”

George Williford, of First Southwest Company in Dallas, said underwriters for Southwest Securities and Raymond James/Morgan Keegan wrapped up the bond sale Thursday morning.

Williford noted that financial rating agencies both affirmed the county’s good existing bond ratings of AA- with Standard and Poor’s and AA with Fitch.

“The full $20 million will be money that you will receive at closing for project purposes,” he told the court. “The reason that the issue side is smaller is that the way the yields versus coupons for the bonds were set, you received a premium of $1.3 million, which makes up the difference, as well as covers the cost additions associated with the bond issues.”

Williford gave commissioners a bond summary book that showed 3.1 percent as the true interest cost, which Williford called the indicative or effective rate.  

The bond issue will cost the county $409,000 in interest this fiscal year, according to the book, which also shows debt service ramping up from about $808,500 in 2014 to $1,280,000 by 2022, then stabilizing for the rest of the 25-year period. The total debt service comes to about $30 million.

Williford said the effective rate for the $60 million 2009 bond issue, also structured with a 25-year repayment, is 5.08 percent.

“This shows you how favorable the market is ... last week, the new rates were as low as literally we’ve seen them ... there was an article that said that the tax-exempt interest rates were at 47-year, literally, an all-time low. So it’s a very good time — if you have to be financing an issue in debt — a good time to be doing that.”

After the vote to approve the sale, Riley reminded the court that the county would receive partial reimbursement for the interchange project.

“We have a pass-through agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation that one year after completing the interchange with the Western Loop we’ll begin receiving money back from TxDOT — about $650,000 to $690,000 over a 12- to 15-year period — obviously it’s a traffic count issue. That’s part of the overall plan to know what money is available (from the bonds).”

The bridge connecting I-20 with the partially constructed Ric Williamson Memorial Highway, or Western Loop, is one of five phases for the 5.6-mile project connecting FM 51, FM 920, U.S. Highway 180, and Ranger Highway around the west side of Weatherford.

The county is designing, building and inspecting the bridge and will be reimbursed by TxDOT according to the number of vehicles passing through the interchange.

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