Polk County Commissioners did some significant bond juggling recently and, by refinancing some bonds and adding some new ones, managed to save almost $6 million, according to the county's Comptroller and Clerk Stacy Butterfield.
Butterfield told commissioners at a recent session that the $120 million bond issue will save money and still give the board enough funds to continue paying off an existing $64.5 million bond issue. Butterfield said it will also put another $55 million in the bank to pay for water and sewer system plant upgrades.
The bonds originally issued were costing between four and five percent in interest, she explained, but the new rate will be only about three percent, resulting in the savings.
Among the projects to be paid for by the new bonds is a new Cherry Hill Water Production facility, which carries a price tag of nearly $7 million. According to utilities department facilities leader Mark Addison, the new plant is in keeping with the county's overall “regionalization” plan, which combines older existing plants into newer, state-of-the art operations that will serve the county well into the future.
Addison also told the board that the new plant construction should get underway within the next several months and take 480 days to build. Vogel Brothers Building Co. will do the actual construction of the project, said County Manager Bill Beasley.
Beasley also said the new plant, which will serve much of the northwest county, will replace old facilities and provide new wells, water treatment and storage, as well as high demand pumps and new technology to keep the plant operating.
“What we're doing is regionalizing and getting out of people's backyards,” he said.
Beasley also said the Ernie Caldwell Sewer Treatment Plant in northeast Polk also will get a $4 million upgrade with the cash from the bond sales.
Before the board unanimously approved the bond sale and refinancing, Butterfield also said that her group of financial advisers are always watching the bond markets to hunt for savings opportunities.
“When the market conditions look right, we put forward a plan,” she said.
Polk had $350 million in outstanding bond indebtedness in 2018, according to reports.