DALLAS — A handful of issues is expected to price in Texas this week — none worth more than $15 million.

In the largest deal of the week, the city of Keller plans to price two tranches competitively Tuesday following upgrades from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.

The growing Fort Worth suburb will offer $8.3 million of combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation and $4 million of general obligation bonds.

Earlier this month, Moody’s raised its rating on the city’s credit to Aa3 from A1 and Standard & Poor’s bumped its rating to AA from A-plus. Analysts cited Keller’s “healthy tax base with very high wealth indices,” and stable financial operations.

Proceeds from the bonds will fund library improvements, while the COs will fund upgrades to fire stations, parks and drainage, and equipment purchases.

First Southwest Co. is the city’s financial adviser and McCall, Parkhurst & Horton LLP is bond counsel.

Harlandale Independent School District plans to issue $11.5 million of refunding bonds this week through a negotiated sale with Frost Bank and RBC Capital Markets as co-managers.

Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. is the financial adviser to the suburban San Antonio district. Fulbright & Jaworski LLP is bond counsel.

Richard Acosta, senior vice president at Sterne Agee, said he expects to get the bonds to market Wednesday and anticipates savings of 4.5% to 5% for the district.

“We’re really trying to time it here and hope to avoid a spring break” in the market, he said.

Acosta also expects the bonds to be backed by the state’s triple-A rated Permanent School Fund, though he’ll have to check with the Texas Education Agency again just before the sale to insure there’s enough capacity in the credit-enhancement program.

Falling investment earnings have hampered the fund’s ability to back new Texas school debt and districts now have to clear more hurdles and keep in closer contact with the TEA to receive the triple-A insurance.

Harlandale ISD carries underlying ratings of A from Fitch Ratings and A-minus from Standard & Poor’s.

Voters within the district will head to the polls in May to weigh in on two bond propositions. The first for $19.6 million involves refunding bonds and the second for $12 million is for new schools.

Clint Independent School District also expects to price $6.9 million of refunding bonds this week in a negotiated offering with Southwest Securities Inc. as sole manager. 

Most of the bonds, which are expected to be backed by the PSF, mature from 2011 to 2025. About $500,000 of capital appreciation bonds will mature in 2010.

Donna Cline, the district’s executive director for business services, said the board has approved the parameters of the refunding and the deal should price this week.

“We’re ready to go and, of course, we’re not going to go below 3% [on savings], but things look pretty good and I’m hopeful we’ll be closer to 6%,” she said.

She also expects the bonds to receive the PSF guarantee. 

First Southwest is the financial adviser to the West Texas district about 18 miles southeast of El Paso on the Rio Grande.

The school district includes part of the Fort Bliss military base and serves about 10,400 students. Officials expect the student population to more than double in the next five years and top 24,000 by 2010, due in part to the Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure program.

El Paso’s Fort Bliss is expected to add 20,000 troops over the next few years.

Highland Park Independent School District will offer $2.8 million of general obligation bonds at some point this week. RBC Capital Markets is lead manager for the negotiated sale.

A few utility districts are bringing low-rated or unrated bonds to the competitive market this week.

On Tuesday, Mount Houston Road Municipal Utility District will offer $8.4 million of waterworks and sewer system combination tax and revenue bonds and Harris County Water Control Improvement District No. 96 will issue $5.6 million of unlimited tax bonds.

Both deals come to market with underlying ratings of BBB from Standard & Poor’s.

First Southwest is the adviser to the Harris County district and RBC advises the Mount Houston Road utility.

On Thursday, Kaufman County Municipal Utility District No. 11 plans to offer $3.3 million of unlimited-tax road bonds and Northwest Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 10 will offer nearly $3.8 million of unlimited tax bonds. GMS Group is the financial adviser to the Houston-area utility. RBC is the financial adviser to the Kaufman County district, which is southeast of Dallas.

Neither issue is rated. 


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