Nov. 27, 2003 The Public Finance Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to float up to $270 million Gross Receipts Revenue Bonds in an attempt to get capital projects the PFA hopes will increase revenues in the territory moving.
The Legislature passed a bill earlier this year allowing the government to float up to $235 million in bonds including $100 million to repay a short-term "bond anticipation note" from Banco Popular and $135 million to jump-start a variety of projects and repairs in the territory.
The legislature also approved refinancing a $300 million bond issue passed in 1999, which gave the PFA an additional $50 million to work with.
Kenneth Mapp, executive director of the Public Finance Authority, said the bonds will be readied for the market by next week and will be sold by Dec. 17.
Standard and Poor's has assigned the 2003 Gross Receipts Revenue Bonds a BBB "stable" rating. Standard and Poor's also upgraded the BBB-minus ratings that were previously assigned to the general-obligation bonds and outstanding gross-receipts bonds floated by the government in the past to BBB stable.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said the upgrade in bond ratings was good news and proof the financial market has "increasing confidence" that the government's financial initiatives "are positively impacting the economic picture, reflecting that we are making steady progress in getting our financial house in order."
During Wednesdays meeting, the PFA voted to add $7 million in additional projects to the gross-receipts bonds. An additional $2 million was added to meet a federally imposed mandate to close the Anguilla landfill, and $5 million was added to fix roadways damaged during early Novembers heavy rains.
The $270 million proposal includes $137 million in capital projects and repairs, $100 million to repay the Banco Popular loan and an additional $33 million to pay the debt service or interest payments on the loan.
Mapp said some of the projects proposed by the legislature, specifically the economic-development initiatives, could not be financed by bonds because the local government cannot sell bonds for a project that does not exist.
"We can not take bonds to the market and say to the investors 'give us the money and then the government will decide what the project is,'" Mapp said.
With the bond money, the government says it will complete repairs to schools and government buildings and will provide funding to meet three court orders, including $16.5 million to build new wastewater treatment plants and $2 million to upgrade conditions at the St. Thomas Prison annex.
The $137 million in capital projects the government will undertake from the gross-receipts revenue bonds are:
Department of Health:
Charles Harwood Renovations: $4 million
Purchase of Ambulances, Emergency Boat for St. John: $750,000
VI Police Department:
Communications and crime lab equipment: $3 million
Department of Education:
Repairs to CAHS: $2 million
Summer maintenance: $2.5 million
Repairs to Adelita Cancryn: $3 million
Frederiksted Economic Revitalization: $11 million
Repairs to Department of Finance Building: $5 million
Repairs to sewage treatment facilities: $5 million
Repairs to Old Danish School in Frederiksted: $2 million
Renovations to Lucinda Millin Home: $750,000
Renovations to Herbert Grigg Home: $750,000
Repairs to Central High School: $2 million
Repairs to John Woodson Jr. High: $1 million
Repairs to Elena Christian Jr. High: $1 million
Repairs, renovations to elementary schools in VI: $3.25 million
Carifest Park fund guarantee reserve account : $10 million
Kimelman Cancer Center at RLSH: $5 million
Luis Hospital Cardiac Care Center: $8.5 million
VI Housing Finance Authority projects: $5 million
Bethlehem Sugar Factory Renovations: $1 million
Hospital Street Renovations: $5 million
St. John parking lot : $1 million
New wastewater treatment plants: $16.5 million
St. Croix economic development initiatives: $5 million
Repairs to Franklin Building on St. Thomas: $2 million
Court ordered repairs to the St. Thomas Prison Annex: $2 million
Repairs to ballparks on St. Croix: $3 million
Repairs and restoration of historic buildings: $15 million
Legal Services of the VI: $300,000
Fort Frederik restoration: $500,000
St. Croix Foundation: $350,000
Island Center : $350,000
Acquisition of Lindqvist Beach: $2.5 million
Emergency Road Repairs: $5 million
Public Works Department for Anguilla Landfill, St. Croix: $2 million
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.