Public given chance to purchase county bonds

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By Carol A. Clark

A portion of the upcoming sale of Los Alamos County’s Gross Receipts Tax Revenue bonds will be available for purchase by residents in the near future.

Chief Financial Officer Steven Lynne told County Council Tuesday evening that community members have been calling the county asking to buy some of the $71.5 million in debt proceeds needed to complete the county’s Capitol Improvement Projects (CIP).

The dollar amount of bonds available to the public has yet to be determined.

Lynne briefed council during Tuesday’s meeting in the White Rock Town Hall on the steps the county will go through during the next few months in order to issue debt to finance its Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which include the following projects:

Airport Basin Site;

Judicial/Police/Jail Complex;

Diamond Drive Phases 3 and 4; and

West Jemez Bypass and intersection.

The eventual plan for specific use of the bond proceeds may change based upon the status of each project, he said, and would be reflected in the updated CIP presented to council for final approval before the sale.

Independent financial advisor services have been procured by the county through Kevin Powers of RBC Capital Markets.

Councilor Ken Milder, who was on the council in the 1980s, recalled Powers’ company was involved with the county at that time as well.

“They know the town and their experience and knowledge is really helpful,” he said.

Milder also mentioned that retaining a financial advisor that has credibility and respect within the industry can shave a few points on issuance of the bonds.

“On $71.5 million, that can add up,” he said.

Powers will be invited to attend a council meeting in early September to walk through the basics of a bond issuance in advance of the sale, Lynne said.

Bond counsel services have been procured through Modrall Sperling out of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, he said, adding that underwriting services will be procured and vendor selection is targeted for mid to late August.

“Staff expects that this issue will be rated and is planning that we would go for the ratings in late August or early September,” Lynne said. “The target time frame for the bond sale is between the last week in September and the first week in October.”

The authority for issuance of these bonds is Ordinance 529 and Lynne said there is room in the ordinance for all debt needs in a single issuance.

Staff will return to council with an updated CIP and final terms prior to the sale for approval, he said. The bonds will mature in a maximum of 20 years, with some debt structured at a shorter term to decrease the overall average maturity and as estimated in the long-range financial plan, Lynne said the bond rate is expected to be 4.5 percent or slightly less.

In other business, council unanimously approved the revised job descriptions and amended salary plans for two Department of Public Utilities employees.

Council also approved 5-to-0, a programmatic agreement among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Santa Fe National Forest and the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer regarding historic properties and responsibilities for the Environmental Impact Statement for the settlement land transfer for Pueblo De San Ildefonso, Pueblo Santa Clara and Los Alamos County.

A grant application to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Aviation Division for $1,447 to repaint the center line and some numbers on the Los Alamos County Runway also passed 5-to-0.

Council Chair Jim Hall and councilor Nona Bowman were absent.

Editor’s note: Details in follow-up articles will feature Tuesday’s briefing on the Santa Fe National Forest’s Travel Management proposal and the council’s unanimous approval of an agreement with WorldScape Incorporated and an agreement for an updated inventory/security system for the Los Alamos County Library System.