Airport bonds take off

February 16, 2009
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Kent County commissioners agreed last week to authorize a refunding bond for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, securities that will carry the county’s triple-A rating.

The bond issue can’t exceed $34 million and would redeem a 1995 series that was worth $40 million then and was refunded four years later for $37.5 million in a 1999 series. The 1999 series has an outstanding principal of $31.5 million.

The bonds paid for airport runway improvements.

County Fiscal Services Director Robert White estimated the new bonds would save the aeronautics board about $3 million in interest payments over the life of the securities and would have a net present value savings of $2.4 million. Airport Finance and Administration Director Brian Picardat said GFIA would save $200,000 annually with the refunding.

The bond’s term goes through 2025.

Commissioner Stan Ponstein supported the refunding authorization but wanted to know how much it would cost the aeronautics board to sell the bonds and what each of the fees in the sales process would be. “I often find those quite excessive,” he said. His request, though, wasn’t immediately answered.

The bonds should offer buyers a tax-free interest rate of no more than 5.5 percent. Pricing is expected to happen next month and airport officials would like to have the securities go to market in mid-April.

County commissioners also agreed last week to purchase property at 1230 Bradford NE that will be added to the county’s Fuller Avenue Campus. The price is $125,000 plus closing costs of $1,500.

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