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City to refinance $8.6 million in water bonds

ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission tentatively approved a measure that could save between $250,000 and $400,000 by refinancing bond payments from 1998.

Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission Finance Director John Vansant briefed the commission on the planned move at WG&L's workshop meeting this week.

According to figures he presented, if the City Commission votes to refinance the bonds from their current rate of 4.74 percent to whatever the market rate is on the day it's processed -- which is believed to be around 3.67 percent -- the WG&L will save between $250,000 and $400,000 over the life of the remaining bond.

"We had looked at refinancing earlier, but the rates went bad on us," Vansant said. "Now they are more favorable."

The original $15 million bond was passed in 1998 to build a water treatment plant, Vansant said. The city currently owes $8.6 million and is scheduled to pay it off in 2018.

The Commission passed the item unanimously in its work session and will cast a binding vote at its monthly business meeting Tuesday night.

"Honestly, it's all about savings," Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said. "We're pleased to see WG&L has taken advantage of the reduced bond rates to save money."

The Dougherty County Commission recently voted to allow the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority to refinance bonds that were used to build what is now the State Department of Community Affairs Building -- a site that is home to more than a dozen state and local offices.

With $9 million left on the life of the bonds, the county expects to save $500,000 by simply signing up for the lower interest rates.

In both instances, the city and the county refinancing efforts will not extend the life of the loans, officials said.