Hawaii County plans to take advantage of low interest rates and its excellent bond rating to refinance up to $357 million in bonds.
The County Council is scheduled to vote on the plan, Bill 191, at its meeting Wednesday.
One of the bond rating agencies, Standard & Poors, in December raised the county’s credit rating, a move that typically lowers the interest rate on borrowing. Sako said the rating was raised from AA- to AA.
The county’s current outstanding debt, including bonds, state revolving loans, bank notes and bonds reimbursable by the Department of Water Supply, now stands at $449.4 million, down from the $477.6 million it owed a year ago.
The amount, however, doesn’t include $103 million the council approved in March for road projects. Finance Director Deanna Sako told the council earlier this month that bond issue would go out separately in October.
Nor does it include the $40 million the state loaned the county for lava recovery. Under questioning from Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, Sako said she hasn’t included it in the report because the county hasn’t spent it yet.
Refinancing pays off various previously issued bonds and creates new bond debt “in order to achieve debt service savings and other benefits for the County in the management of its debt obligations,” according to Bill 191.
Sako said Friday that the administration doesn’t plan to immediately refinance all the bonds. Instead, she said, the bill will give the department