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Friday, September 17, 2010

Portland bonds for SoWhat District: 5.574% for a 12-year loan

The City of Portland sold its "urban renewal" bonds for the SoWhat District on Wednesday. About $65 million was borrowed, all to repay shorter-term loans that have already long been spent. We've asked the city to send us the maturities and interest rates for the new, permanent loans, but as usual of late, they're taking their sweet time honoring our request for information.

No matter. While we wait, this unofficial site already shows quite a bit of information about the bonds. There were two series of bonds -- one taxable (presumably because the money was spent for the benefit of private businesses), and the other one tax-exempt (because the money was spent for an arguably public purpose).

The biggest single chunk of taxable bonds went for 10 years -- $13,730,000 at 5.374%. But $4,015,000 borrowed for 12 years went off at 5.574%. Shorter-term taxable bonds will fetch between 2.571% and 3.96%, for $29,645,000 in total taxable bonds.

Hmmmmm. 5.374% or 5.574% -- that's some dang high interest for a 10- or 12-year loan, folks. And for what? To make guys like Homer Williams and Dike Dame rich. Sad.

On the tax-exempt bonds, figuring out the precise interest rate isn't an easy task. Apparently the bonds were not sold exactly at their face values, and so their stated interest rates don't reflect the true interest cost. The stated interest rates range from 3.75% for 12-year money to 5% for 20-year money, but those are rough estimates. For example, the 20-year bonds apparently sold for (that is, the city received) 104.861% of face value, which means that the top interest rate was something in the 4's. My guess is something like 4.62%, which would also be a pretty hefty interest rate for 20-year money when you consider that it's tax-exempt interest. But we'll have to wait for the official word from the city on the actual yields on the tax-exempt bonds -- if we ever get them. If and when we do, of course, we'll post them.

Comments (2)

Does the Maturity date refer to when our civic leaders will finally pull their heads out of their arses?

"Does the Maturity date refer to when our civic leaders will finally pull their heads out of their arses?"

No - They subtract one year from that date and then float another bigger bond.

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