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Harford County government sold $145,990,000 in bonds Tuesday at what officials said are favorable interest rates.

The bulk of the bond proceeds will pay for construction of major school projects and the expansion of the Abingdon Water Treatment Plant.

The Harford County Council held a special legislative session Tuesday afternoon to approve the sale, which includes $120 million in new general obligation public improvement bonds and $25,990,000 in refunding bonds to pay off some existing debt and gain a lower interest rate.

Bids on the bonds were taken electronically until 10 a.m. Tuesday. Deputy Treasurer Rick Pernas said the bids remained firm until 3 p.m. The council finally approved the sale resolutions about 2:59 p.m., just in the nick of time.

The public improvement bond issue is for 20 years; the refunding issue is for 11 years.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. put in the lowest bid at a 3.747846 percent interest rate on the $120 million public improvement bonds, for a total interest cost of $63,956,145.83, a premium of $8,464,625.00 and a net interest cost of $55,491,520.83.

A number of projects being funded through this bond sale are already under way, including the Edgewood and Bel Air high schools replacement buildings, Deerfield and Joppatowne elementary schools replacement buildings, Fallston senior center, Harford Waste Disposal Center expansion and the water plant expansion.

Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. put in the lowest bid at a 2.301376 percent interest rate on the $25,990,000 refunding bonds, for a total interest cost of $4,002,350.00, a premium of $1,198,938.64 and a net interest cost of $2,803,411.36.

Prior to the sale of the refunding bonds, the council approved a slight reduction in the principal amount from $27,730,000 it had approved last month. The county expects to save around $2 million in interest payments through the refunding issue.

Although the refunding bond sale was unanimously approved, Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti voted against the public improvement bond sale.

“This new debt is... very uncomfortable for me,” Lisanti said.

During a council meeting May 19, Lisanti referenced the minutes of a March legislative session, in which Council President Billy Boniface asked the council to approve using the county auditor to examine how the 2007 bond proceeds, as authorized by council resolution 27-7, have been expended.

Lisanti said she has not seen the results of that study, which was to be made available no later than three months after the ordering of the audit.

“I can’t move forward in good faith without having that audit,” Lisanti said, adding the study is supposed to be due today (Wednesday).

The last time bonds were sold, on Nov. 6, 2007, the county government received an interest rate of 3.9234 percent.


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