LOS ANGELES — Honolulu City and County Mayor Kirk Caldwell and a team of city officials will be in San Francisco Wednesday to meet with bond rating agencies before a sale of general obligation bonds.
Caldwell will be joined by Honolulu City Council Budget Chair Joey Manahan, City and County of Honolulu Budget and Fiscal Services Director Nelson Koyanagi and Chief of Treasury Wayne Fujita, Chief of Staff Gary Kurokawa, and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Chief Financial Officer Robert Yu.
They will meet with Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings on Wednesday to discuss a bond sale scheduled for mid-August to support Oahu’s $8.2 billion elevated rail project. The project has faced delays, cost overruns and opposition from environmentalists, who say it will ruin Honolulu views of the ocean.
The City Council approved an up-to-$350 million GO bond sale in mid-June to support the project. The bond sale will help ensure that the HART has enough funds to pay its bills on existing contracts for construction from Kapolei on Oahu’s west side to Middle Street in downtown Honolulu.
The project is supposed to end at Ala Moana Center, but the mayor has proposed shortening the 20-mile project and ending at Middle Street, eliminating one stop. Detractors say not extending it to the shopping center would hurt ridership.
Anticipated costs on the project have ballooned, exceeding anticipated revenue from general excise tax surcharges that were meant to support the project and expire in 2027.
The state legislature is holding a special session to discuss either extending the GET or paying the additional costs by increasing property taxes.
Honolulu has maintained bond ratings of Aa1 from Moody’s and AA+ from Fitch throughout Mayor Caldwell’s administration.
“These excellent bond ratings result in lower interest rates for the city,” according to the mayor’s office.
Caldwell most recently meet with Moody’s and Fitch in September 2016 prior to another bond sale.
In addition to the bond meetings, on Tuesday Mayor Caldwell and Chair Manahan will tour electric bus manufacturer Proterra to examine emission free buses that could be brought to Oahu in the future.
Caldwell left Honolulu for the mainland Monday and will return on Wednesday. During the mayor’s absence, Managing Director Roy K. Amemiya, Jr. will serve as acting mayor.