DALLAS - Dallas would delay two annually scheduled general obligation bond sales of $304.5 million each by six months under a plan to save money presented to the City Council on Wednesday by city manager Mary Suhm.

Instead of GO sales in November 2009 and November 2010, the proposed schedule calls for a sale of $314.5 million in March 2010 and one of $384.4 million in March 2011.

The council is expected to decide on the sales schedule later this month.

The bond sales would be the final two tranches from $1.35 billion of GOs authorized by voters in November 2006. The city issued 10% of the 2006 authorization - $135.4 million in May 2007, $304.5 million in November 2007, and $214.7 million in November 2008.

Suhm said the six-month delay in the planned 2009 sale would save Dallas $15.7 million in debt service costs for fiscal 2010. The city's proposed budget for fiscal 2010, which begins Oct. 1, includes $255.7 million of debt service on $1.97 billion of outstanding GO debt.

The city's GO debt is rated Aa1 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-plus by Standard & Poor's.

Suhm said the projects to be financed with proceeds from the March 2010 bond sale reflect the city's financial limitations. The proposed $1.93 billion operating budget for next fiscal year reduces expenditures by $190 million from the current budget due to declines in property valuations and sales tax revenue.

"We did not want to build anything with these bonds that we cannot afford to staff or maintain," she said. "We also timed the awarding of project contracts to when the bonds would be sold."

Suhm said Dallas must sell the bonds to finance the projects promised to voters in 2006. The timing is right, she said, because construction prices are low and the bond-financed work would help stimulate the local economy.

"We're going to save money," she said. "We're getting good bids on projects, and we're getting a lot of bids."

The 2010 bond sale would provide $106.1 million for streets and transportation, $73.6 million for parks and recreation, $53.2 million for flood control, and $10.2 million for public safety.

The 2011 bond sale would provide $144.7 million for flood control, $116.4 million for streets, $78.6 million for parks and recreation, and $16 million for public safety.

Some $6.7 million of proceeds from the 2010 sale would be used to repair the leaking roof and resolve other maintenance issues at the municipal court building.

Suhm said the University of North Texas wants to use the aging facility as its law school in downtown Dallas, but the city must preserve the structure until the law school opens.

"It is our building and we will have to take care of it," she said. "When this work is completed, we should have a weather-proof building that UNT can renovate at its expense.

"The partnership with UNT is saving the city money," Suhm said. "Otherwise we'd have to completely restore and renovate the building, and it is in pretty sorry shape."

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