Officials say they received a favorable interest rate.
Frederick County came out a ahead when it went to the bond market on Wednesday. During her public information briefing on Thursday, County Executive Jan Gardner said the county sold $85,405,000 in non-taxable bonds at an interest rate of 2.26%. “These favorable rates resulted in debt service savings to the general fund alone on the tax exempt bonds, compared to what we anticipated, of over $5-million. $5,058,000 over the life of those bonds,” says Gardner.
“That’s enough money to build an additional fire station, another branch library, improve a road or bridge, or develop a portion of a large park,” she said.
The County also refinanced $34,820,000 of taxable bonds which is a refunding of the debt from the Montevue Assisted Living Center and Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center. The interest rate was 2.2532%. “That’s also a great rate because those are taxable bonds and that came with a $700,000 premium which we can use pay down some of that interest expense,” says Gardner.
She says the county received eight bids for the tax exempt bonds, with Citigroup being the successful bidder. There were nine bids for the taxable bonds. Raymond James came out as the successful bidder.
Last week, Moodys Investor Service increased the county’s bond rating to AAA. The other two top rating agencies, Fitch and Standard and Poor, re-affirmed the county’s AAA status. “We originally anticipated receiving an interest rate of about 2.45% or 2.5%. And so as the result of this AAA bond rating we received, we reduced our interest rate by 20 basis points with that 2.26% rate,” says Gardner.
Also, County Executive Gardner presented the report from the committee which interviews and recommends candidates for the County Ethics Commission. She said the committee began the process of helping to fill two vacancies on the Ethics Commission. It was supposed to recommend two for each seat, but only three candidates were proposed. She says there was originally a total of four, but one person withdrew. “The committee has suggested that the county consider additional means of soliciting more candidates to apply for the Ethics Commission,” Gardner says, indicating the county may also advertise in smaller newspapers or use social media.
“We really need to recruit more applicants. And we need to discuss and think about ways to do that,” said Mary Ellen Rhoderick with the League of Women Voters. “It’s not a good process if we don’t have people who apply, obviously.”
The process was developed to take the politics out of the selection process for the Ethics Commission. It was intended not to allow elected officials to choose who should serve on the panel.
Despite the small number of candidates, Gardner remains optimistic about this new process. “I think we’ve made a big step forward to try take some of the politics out of the Ethics Commission, and to remove all elected officials in Frederick County at least a step out and away from the Ethics Commission appointments,” she says.