New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority hopes to return to deals structured with level debt service when it goes to market next week, its staff said yesterday. The agency plans to sell $650 million of transportation revenue bonds as a mix of tax-exempt bonds and taxable Build America Bonds on Feb. 3.
“Our practice and our desire is to have level debt—it’s easier to plan around and easier to manage,” finance director Patrick McCoy said following the MTA’s monthly finance committee meeting yesterday.
“During the market upheaval there have been some deals where we stayed short because going long would have cost so much, or we’ve gone long because that’s where the real benefit was, and so what you have is some lumpiness as you look at the debt profile.”
Improvement in the debt markets is the main reason the MTA will be able to return to its practice, according to McCoy. The structure of the deal and the ratio of tax-exempt to taxable debt has not been finalized but will be designed with level debt service in mind, he said.
Barclays Capital will lead manage the deal that could kick off with a one day retail order period on Feb. 2. Nixon Peabody LLP is bond counsel and Goldman, Sachs & Co. is financial adviser.
In a break with previous practice, the bond deal was brought before the finance committee for approval rather than having the board approve the issuance calendar for the year and finance staff executing deals on their own.
McCoy said the change will allow more board involvement on transactions.
The MTA plans to market $2.57 billion of new money bonds and $150 million of refunding bonds in 2010. The authority has $26.6 billion of debt outstanding.
The issuer’s finance committee also approved the marketing of $700 million of revenue anticipation notes backed by a payroll tax, known as the mobility tax, enacted by the state Legislature last year as part of an MTA bailout package.
The mobility tax was created primarily to fund the MTA’s capital needs, but the notes will be issued for operations and maintenance.
Citi will lead manage the deal which is expected to price the week of Feb. 15. Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP is bond counsel. The notes will mature in December.
The MTA began 2010 without a five-year capital program. After calling the $28.08 billion proposal “unaffordable,” Gov. David Paterson, through his representative on an oversight board, vetoed the plan.
Similarly, a five-year capital program for the state’s bridges and highways was killed due to lack of funding. In his executive budget proposal last week, Paterson proposed a two-year highway and bridge capital program.
MTA chairman and chief executive officer Jay Walder said the authority was still working on a revised five-year capital program to resubmit to Albany, but didn’t offer a preview as to how it could change.
“The MTA sought in putting together its original capital program to be able to move forward with the five year program—with two years funded,” Walder said. “That is the right way for us to look at it right now.”