The Harrisburg City Council on Tuesday night approved a $270 million lease of parking assets that is one of two lynchpins to the financial recovery plan in Pennsylvania's capital city.
The Harrisburg Parking Authority board is expected to vote Wednesday night on the lease agreement with the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority.
"We're looking to price [the bonds] in early December," said Steven Goldfield of Public Resources Advisory Group, the financial advisor for state-appointed receiver William Lynch's team.
Receivership officials hope to submit packages to bond ratings agencies on Thursday, although the council legislation includes a 20-day waiting period during which the council could reconsider. The council's approval Tuesday, however, was unanimous.
Under the parking deal, the state authority would issue tax-exempt bonds to finance a lease of parking assets for up to 40 years to Harrisburg First, a consortium that includes Guggenheim Securities, Piper Jaffray & Co., Standard Parking Corp. and Trimont Real Estate Advisors.
Lynch, speaking after the meeting, said lenders are taking renewed interest in a city that had been a pariah in the capital markets.
"Last year, we approached several banks and they wouldn't even return our phone calls. [Wednesday,] we have meetings with more banks that are interested in us. Our reputation for apparently moving forward and getting out of this dilemma is beginning to work," Lynch said after the meeting, citing rekindled interest from banks to lend to Harrisburg that didn't exist a year ago.
Lynch's team wants to price the bonds while interest rates remain low and before the city encounters yet another cash-flow problem. December and January usually tight revenue months for normal cities, let alone one with Harrisburg's problems.
"As you know, there's been upheaval in the municipal bond market," said Lynch, citing the spike in interest rates in June "We've come back about halfway from that bad hiccup of last summer. And we're in good shape now, but it changes in an almost daily basis and that's why there's some urgency to get out before Christmas time, before January."
The Dauphin County Commissioners two weeks ago approved $170 million in parking revenue bonds.