Polk County recently had an extremely successful bond pricing to provide $65 million in funds for water and sewer capital projects and $23 million to refinance debt.
The bond issue was initially expected to receive present value savings of up to $7 million towards payments on existing bonds. As a result of favorable market conditions and demand, the actual savings equated to approximately $8.7 million due to the refunding of Build America Bonds.
“We hit the market during a week when yields neared record lows,” said Clerk Stacy Butterfield, Polk County Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller. “The Board of County Commissioner’s decision to issue the bonds and the strategic timing resulted in significant savings and reduced debt for Polk County. As the County’s financial Comptroller, the Clerk is responsible for monitoring and identifying opportunities such as these and presenting them to the Board of County Commissioners for consideration.”
In conjunction with the bond issue, the County achieved a rating upgrade from AA to AA+ from S&P Global Ratings. According to S&P, “the rating reflects management’s policies and procedures that have ensured that the system will maintain very strong coverage and liquidity levels while funding a significant, albeit manageable, capital plan.”
The County’s strong ratings generated overwhelming investor demand for the bonds. In total, investors placed $678 million in orders for $88 million in bonds, which enabled the County to reprice the bonds at lower interest rates. The County likewise benefited from strength in the Treasury and tax-exempt bond markets, pricing the bonds in a week when yields hit record lows.
The County’s utility system total debt service decreased by $28.8 million over time taking into consideration the transactions that closed as of March 13, compared to the total outstanding debt service as of the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2019, for all transactions related to Utility Bonds.
“This is great news for the tax paying citizens of Polk County,” said Commissioner Bill Braswell, chairman of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners. “This is how responsible government is supposed to work.”
Stacy M. Butterfield, CPA, serves as the Polk County Clerk of the Circuit & Comptroller. As an independently elected official, the Clerk & Comptroller safeguards public funds and records while performing three roles: Clerk of Courts, County Recorder, and County Comptroller. As the Comptroller, the Clerk is the Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer, and Auditor to the Board of County Commissioners. The Comptroller monitors the county budget, revenues, debt, and spending as well as pays the County’s bills, maintains financial records, and produces financial statements and reports. The Comptroller also manages County investments to earn interest thereby lessening the burden on taxpayers.