New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which planned to sell $2.08 billion of new-money bonds throughout 2008, has accelerated its schedule to the point that it has already marketed that amount of debt last month and this month - though that includes some refunding.
Some of that debt was to be used to restructure some of the MTA's auction-rate securities, but the authority isn't saying exactly how much. Last month the MTA accelerated a bond sale to that was supposed to take place in March and increased it to $1 billion from $750 million and included $430 million to refund ARS.
It wasn't clear yesterday what would happen to the MTA's bond calendar which had scheduled sales in May, September, and November.
"We will probably come back to you most like next month to talk about a revised [bond sale] schedule," said MTA chief financial officer Gary Dellaverson yesterday at a finance committee meeting. "It's a very volatile time in this market."
The MTA had intended to sell $105 million of bonds on its Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority credit in May, but that was accelerated to this month and the amount increased 10-fold to $1.08 billion.
The bond proceeds will be used for approved bridge and tunnel projects as well as an undecided amount of transit and commuter projects and refinancings.
"We are in the middle of a refunding analysis and have not made any decisions on the allocation of TBTA 2008A and 2008B proceeds," acting finance director Vinay Dayal said in an e-mail.
Dellaverson said accelerating the calendar allowed the to MTA "to take advantage of a difficult market - to jump in front of it - and also to allow us the ability to make judgments about portions of our variable-rate debt portfolio."
As of last month, slightly less than half, $2.4 billion, of the authority's approximately $5 billion of variable-rate debt was in auction-rate mode.
Dellaverson said there had been a "slight moderation" in the impact of higher interest rates on its ARS, which have experienced higher resets as the auction-rate market has experience widespread auction failures. One series of MTA auction-rate securities reset yesterday at 9% according to Bloomberg data, though other series have rest at lower rates.
The MTA did not respond to a question about what the higher interest rates resets have cost the authority, but last month it said that higher rates during the two weeks when many auctions began failing cost the MTA an additional $992,000 of debt service above budget.
The auction-rate market wasn't the only fiscal concern at the MTA yesterday. In a sign that the New York real estate market is slowing, the authority announced the dedicated tax revenue it receives from mortgage transactions in the New York metropolitan area dropped by nearly 50% this month, as compared to March 2007.
The MTA had forecast a significant drop in its March receipts from $158.4 million in 2007 last year to $110.8 million this year but the receipts came in at $79.3 million, a 49.9% decline. Last year, March receipts were the biggest of the 2007. Real estate receipts have a month lag, meaning that March figures reflect February transactions.
January receipts came in $18.4 million higher than budgeted, at $122.2 million. February receipts came in $7.9 million below budget.
The MTA's share of petroleum business tax receipts collected by the state in March on activity from February came in at $152 million, which was $6 million lower than budget projections. However, toll revenue collections remain strong at $393.7 million in February, $4.4 million above budget.
Facing a tighter revenue situation, the MTA delayed enacting $30 million of service enhancements that were expected to come before the finance committee yesterday. Those enhancements could come before the committee within three months, Dellaverson said.