Much as a homeowner refinances, the county was able to re-fund more than $85 million in bonds and put them out for a new bid.
Of the 11 bids received in the online sale, Citicorp Global Markets LLC had the winning offer with a true interest cost of 1.722 percent.
The refinanced bonds were from 2003, 2007 and 2008. They were issued to complete infrastructure projects including school construction, bridge work and road projects, according to Lori Depies, director of the county’s finance division.
“It’s good news for the county,” Depies said of the savings. “That gives us money to spend on other priorities.”
Depies said the county picked certain bonds that were deemed likely to generate savings if they were re-funded. The new bonds are expected to be paid off in nine years.
The construction projects the original bonds paid for are complete, Depies said.
“The market is at historic lows,” Sam Ketterman, a financial adviser for the county, said at Thursday’s county commissioners meeting.
Ketterman said when his company did the analysis for the sale, it expected the savings to approach $4 million. When the final bid came in at 10:59:59 a.m. — with one second to spare — Ketterman made a prediction.
“It ought to be an outstanding result for the county,” he said. “It means the county ends up saving a ton of money.”
The county kept the process public to ensure the best bid, according to James Cumbie, bond counsel for the county.
The new bonds will not be issued for two weeks, Cumbie said.
The savings will be felt over the next few years, with some immediate savings expected, Cumbie said.
The high number of bids and the low interest rate for the sale reflect the county’s strong ratings, officials said.
The commissioners were pleased with Thursday’s results.
“That just means the county is in good standing,” Commissioner Billy Shreve said after the bids were received.
When the county discussed spending $360,000 to buy a new truck to inspect sewer lines, it ended with Commissioner Kirby Delauter storming out of the meeting last month.
The request was tabled until Thursday and had a different outcome.
Kevin Demosky, director of the county’s Division of Utilities and Solid Waste Management, presented a proposal that calls for the county to spend up to $15,000 to make immediate repairs to a county truck that has been out of service for more than two months.
The repairs will give the county time to look for cheaper options.
The county will continue to perform routine inspections of its sewer lines, but will look to hire a private contractor to complete some of the more complex tasks.
“I believe it would be worthwhile to bid the work to see the price,” Demosky said.
In the meantime, the county needs to make sure emergency plans are in place, he said.
Delauter expressed concern last month about spending $360,000 to replace a vehicle without first getting more details about what led to the decision. He wanted to make sure there were no cheaper alternatives.
The county is responsible for 320 miles of sewers, which are inspected to prevent sewage backups and overflows. Either problem can lead to costly litigation if a homeowner believes the spill could have been avoided with better monitoring, Demosky said.
Commissioners President Blaine Young said it was important to research cheaper alternatives.
The conversation between Delauter and an employee got heated last month and led to the commissioner storming out of the room.
“Contracting out the more difficult areas makes sense,” Delauter said Thursday.