Bond refinancing to save $8.8 million, state says
March 10, 2012
The treasurer’s office this week refinanced more than $123 million in bonds, cutting the interest rates from more than 4 percent to about 2.5 percent overall.
Deputy Treasurer Lori Chatwood said the savings during the life of the bonds refinanced this week is more than $8.8 million.
And the state isn’t the only beneficiary. One of those five series of bonds is debt owed by Carson City, Douglas County and Indian Hills GID. Their savings are $894,212 of that total.
Chief Deputy Treasurer Mark Mathers said the office also is saving money by working to educate investors in Nevada state and municipal bonds to reduce the interest penalty the state pays “for being Nevada.”
States such as Nevada that some investors see as a more risky investment have to pay a premium over the indexed interest rate to encourage investors to invest in Nevada’s bonds.
“Investors have to get a higher yield to take Nevada’s paper,” he said.
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Two years ago, Mathers said, that premium or “spread” was nine-tenths of a percent. That means if an interest rate came in at 2 percent, the state had to pay 2.9 percent to get investment companies to carry its bonds.
Since then, he said he, Chatwood and Treasurer Kate Marshall have worked to get rid of some misconceptions those investment firms had about the state.
For example, he said, unlike California, Nevada dedicates 17 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in property taxes to help pay bond debt.
Chatwood said another misconception is that bond rating agencies and brokerage firms looked at the multi-billion dollar unfunded liability of the Public Employees Retirement System as the state’s liability. She said that that system represents all governments in the state, so Nevada’s piece of the liability is only a small part of the total. And the state’s actual liability is half of that because the other half is the employee’s liability.
Mathers said that premium is down to just four-tenths of a percent. On $100 million, he said, that would save the state $4.7 million in payments during the 20-year life of the bonds.
Marshall credited Mathers and Chatwood for the reducing the premium. But Mathers said Marshall deserves credit because she has made presentations to numerous brokers, investment firms and rating agencies to argue Nevada’s case.