CHICAGO — The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved more than $3 billion of borrowing in three deals slated for late spring, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance creating a new trust to serve as a financing vehicle to leverage private investment in public projects.
Emanuel, who unveiled plans to create the Chicago Infrastructure Trust earlier this month, also announced Wednesday his choice of James A. Bell, executive vice president at Boeing Corp., to serve as its first chairman.
“The Chicago Infrastructure Trust is a unique mechanism through which the city of Chicago will reshape its infrastructure, creating thousands of jobs and ensuring our leadership in the global economy for decades,” Emanuel said in a statement. “James Bell — with his background of private-sector experience, infrastructure expertise, and knowledge of governmental operations — is the ideal person to lead the trust as it is established and defines projects for the city to pursue.”
Chicago would use the trust to develop specialized and economical financing structures for specific or pooled projects that would still require council approval. The trust is being set up as a not-for-profit that would use the city as a conduit for financing plans that include bonding.
The city has initially identified $200 million of energy-efficiency projects at city facilities and schools to be funded through the trust, with anticipated savings of $20 million in the city’s annual $170 million bill for energy consumption. Chicago hopes to complete the financing for those projects this year, said chief financial officer Lois Scott.
Officials have grander plans to eventually tap the trust on a broader scale for more than $1 billion worth of projects with defined revenue streams that could attract private investment tied to transportation, education, and utility assets owned by the city and its sister entities.
The city has nonbinding agreements from Citibank NA, Citi Infrastructure Investors, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc., JPMorgan Asset Management Infrastructure Group, and Ullico to consider investing in projects through various financing structures.
The bond ordinances authorize the sale of up to $900 million of new-money and refunding general obligation bonds, up to $750 million of new-money and refunding water revenue bonds, and up to $1.75 billion of refunding third-lien O’Hare International Airport revenue bonds and passenger facility revenue bonds.
Barclays Capital is the senior manager for the general airport revenue bonds, which total about $1 billion, and Citi is senior manager on the PFC piece, which is around $650 million. Chicago typically leaves additional borrowing room in its bond ordinances to provide flexibility in final sizing and structuring.
The sizing of the water revenue bonds is still being decided but tentatively includes $200 million of new money, with room for more, and $300 million of refunding. Siebert Brandford Shank & Co. is senior manager.
About $300 million of the GO deal represents new money. Most proceeds will go toward neighborhood and other capital projects planned in the 2012 budget, with $60 million earmarked for court judgments. The remainder represents a mix of refunding bonds for present-value savings and a restructuring that was included in the $6.3 billion 2012 budget. Mesirow Financial Inc. is the senior manager.
Chicago anticipates selling all bond transactions during the second quarter after an investor conference scheduled for April 26.