ATLANTA - Citing market volatility, Wake County, N.C., decided not to price a $424 million general obligation bond deal that had been scheduled for today.

Debt manager Cheryl Spivey said that no specific date has been set for the postponed offering. She declined to comment on whether the county might alter the issue's structure in any way, including making it smaller.

The deal was planned to be sold as Series 2008A in the amount of $354 million and Series 2008B in the amount of $69.8 million. The Series 2008B are refunding bonds, which would take out $71 million of debt sold in 1998.

All of the bonds are fixed rate. They will be sold competitively with Waters & Co. as the financial adviser and Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC as bond counsel.

The Series 2008A bonds were expected to have maturities from 2016 through 2026 and the Series 2008B bonds with maturities from 2010 through 2015.

The county also plans to issue a total of $100 million in a variable-rate private sale next month. They will be Series 2008C and 2000D.

Wake County is rated triple-A by Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service, and Standard & Poor's. A stable outlook is in place from all three agencies.

While the sale has been delayed, Spivey said that will not affect several capital projects that are to be funded with the debt.

In North Carolina, counties issue debt for school systems. Much of the Series 2008 bonds are to be used to fund school projects as Wake County deals with rapid growth in its student population. The county's building plan calls for more than $1 billion.

Last year, Wake County voters approved an historic $970 million bond package for capital needs.

Estimates indicate that 32,000 more students will be enrolled by 2010. The district currently serves 128,000 students in 141 schools. By 2025, 71 schools may be needed to handle those numbers. The current building plan would add 17 new schools through 2010.

Although its funding needs are significant, the county has managed to maintain a relatively low debt burden. That was one of the things Moody's analyst Elizabeth Bergman pointed out as a credit strength in the rating report for the Series 2008 bonds.

She said Wake County would have about 24% of outstanding variable-rate debt after next month's issuance, adding that it hasn't entered into any derivative agreements to hedge the issues.

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