CHICAGO -- Columbus, Ohio, is selling $291 million of top-rated general obligation bonds this week to raise money for a series of capital projects across the city.
The debt will be sold in a competitive sale set for Wednesday morning.
The issue is divided into three series: $258.3 million of unlimited-tax GO bonds; $21.1 million of limited-tax GOs; and $11.6 million of limited-tax GOs that are federally taxable.
The unlimited-tax GOs mature through 2035, and the limited-tax bonds mature through 2030, with all debt redeemable after 2024.
The city's deputy auditor called the deal a "very traditional sale that's solely a new money borrowing." Columbus generally comes to market with new-money bonds every summer.
The ULTGO bonds are secured by the city's full faith and credit with its ad valorem tax without limitation. The LTGOs are also have a full faith and credit pledge plus the ad valorem tax subject to a 10-mill limitation.
Proceeds from the unlimited-tax GO piece of deal will be used for streets and parks, $48 million of water projects, and $48 million of sewer projects, among other things.
The limited-tax GOs will be used to finance projects ranging from information systems to demolishing commercial structures, and the federally taxable debt will be used to purchase a new fleet fuel system and other purposes.
Ahead of the sale, all three major ratings agencies affirmed their triple-A marks on the city. City officials put out a press release touting the high grades.
"I believe we are better managed than any other large American city, and this credit rating is a testament to that," Mayor Michael Coleman said in the statement.
Ratings analysts praise the city for a large and diverse economy strengthened by strong financial management and improving financial operations.
"The stable outlook reflects the expectation that the city's long-term economic and financial health will continue given the diversity of the employers and tax payers as well as management's demonstrated commitment and policies to support operations and repayment of debt service, offsetting the risks associated with a dependence on volatile income taxes," Moody's said in its ratings report on the deal.
The city's dependence on income taxes as a chief revenue source -- it accounted for 73% of general fund revenue in 2012 -- exposes it to economic cycles. To mitigate risks, Columbus in 2009 increased its income tax rate to 2.5% from 2% to help boost general fund revenues. Fitch Ratings noted that the 2009 increase "materially improved the city's trend in operating results."
Bricker & Eckler LLP is bond counsel and Prism Municipal Advisors LLC is financial advisor.
The city has $2.57 billion of outstanding GO debt.