Connecticut is set to form a new bonding authority that will oversee six state airports, including the Bradley International Airport.
The new Connecticut Airport Authority would manage Bradley and the five general aviation airports, collect revenues generated from the facilities, and have the power to issue new bonds and notes and refinance debt.
The state’s Department of Transportation currently oversees the airports. Transfer of the facilities is set to take effect July 1.
Bradley Airport is about a 15-minute drive north of Hartford, according to the airport’s website.
Connecticut’s Legislature approved the initiative last week. Gov. Dannel Malloy will sign the bill establishing the new authority once the administration reviews the legislation, said spokeswoman Juliet Manalan.
“Bradley Airport is centrally located, easily accessible and it could be a major economic driver in our state — if we approach its operations and management strategically,” Malloy said in a statement after the Legislature passed the measure.
“This bill will free Bradley from the bureaucracy that has hamstrung the airport in the past and help to make it more attractive to new routes, new airlines and new ways to increase our state’s economic viability.”
Bradley has $169 million of outstanding debt tied to the airport, according to the state’s Treasury Department. Bondholders will continue to be paid from Bradley’s revenues.
The bill stipulates that the authority may issue long-term debt with up to 40-year maturities. Future borrowing could be secured with revenue generated from Bradley airport and the five other general aviation airports, as well as from special facility revenue and passenger facility charges.
The DOT will direct up to $4.6 million each year in fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013 to the new authority to support operations at the five general aviation airports, as the department will no longer need those annual appropriations, according to a fiscal note regarding the legislation.
The authority is set to collect lease revenue and fees generated at the general aviation airports — about $1.6 million per year.
In the past, those funds have gone into the state’s special transportation fund, which helps finance transportation infrastructure and secures the state’s special-tax obligation bonds.
Connecticut had $3.35 billion of special-tax obligation bonds outstanding as of Feb. 1, according to the official statement of the state’s Series 2011B and Series 2011C general obligation bond sale.
The authority’s board will consist of eleven members: the state treasurer, the commissioner of transportation, the commissioner of economic and community development, four legislative appointees, and four gubernatorial appointees.
The state treasurer may assist the new authority with any borrowings. In its recent request for proposals for underwriting services, the Treasury Department asked firms looking to serve as senior manager on airport bond deals to detail different strategies for a potential bonding program for the Bradley International Airport.