New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority to support library bonds

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The New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority was tapped to help facilitate funding from the state’s $125 million Library Construction Act.

The NJEFA announced a memorandum of understanding last week with the New Jersey State Library, an affiliate of Thomas Edison State University, to provide assistance administrating proceeds from the bond referendum approved by voters in November 2017.

The ballot measure authorized grants for construction, renovation and improvement projects at New Jersey’s public libraries including technology upgrades and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Elected officials and library districts throughout the state have voiced frustration this year at delays in receiving the bond funds.

“NJEFA is excited to begin working with TESU and the State Librarian on administering the Library Grant Program,” Executive Director Eric D. Brophy said in a statement. “This program will provide tremendous value to libraries and residents across the state.”

The MOU, which was approved by the NJEFA at its Sept. 24 board meeting, establishes a framework for the Authority to provide support services for the library bonds. Some of the NJEFA’s guidance under the arrangement may include reviewing regulations and development of grant solicitation materials, developing disbursement procedures and requisition processing for grant funds as well as compliance review. The agency might also assist under the MOU with the preparation and coordination of required documentation such as grant agreements and tax certificates.

NJEFA officials said TESU president Merodie Hancock, who oversees the New Jersey State Library, sought the agency’s services because of its two decades of experience administering nearly $3 billion in construction grants through various state-backed and general obligation bond programs for higher education and public libraries. Under a similar MOU, NJEFA has assisted the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education in recent years in administration of New Jersey’s higher education capital facilities grant programs including the 2012 Building Our Future Bond Act.

A separate MOI with the state treasurer was also approved by the NJEFA’s board last month related to the implementation of New Jersey’s expanded public-private partnership program. The legislation that took effect last year enables public colleges to enter into a P3 agreement with a private organization under which the private entity assumes full financial and administrative responsibility for on-campus or off-campus projects. NJEFA’s statutory authority was also expanded under the bill to permit financing of private entities that are parties to P3 agreements with New Jersey’s public higher education institutions.

The NJEFA was founded in 1966 and has completed 515 transactions totaling nearly $18 billion with zero defaults. The conduit issuer had a record setting year in 2017 aided largely by refunding volume with $1.42 billion of bonds sold in 10 deals. It did not come to market in 2018 or the first half of 2019.

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Infrastructure New Jersey Educational Facilities Authority New Jersey