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Forsyth approves first $100M in bonds for transportation

FORSYTH COUNTY — The Forsyth County commission approved two separate matters involving bonds during its meeting Thursday night.

The first moves forward with road projects as part of the $200 million transportation bond voters approved in November, while the second involves the refinancing of $64 million in parks, recreation and green space bonds.

On the transportation issue, commissioners voted Thursday to issue the first $100 million in bonds.

Of the total $200 million bond program, $81 million is proposed for projects in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation, leveraging state and federal funding. The remaining $119 million is proposed for county projects.

John Cunard, Forsyth’s engineering director, said in a statement that the “county will be sending $53 million to the [DOT], as our portion of the Ga. 400 widening project.”

“The state is managing this work, which will add one lane in each direction on 400 from McFarland Parkway to at least Bald Ridge Marina Road,” he said. “It is our understanding from state officials that work on this project is expected to get under way later this year.”

According to Cunard, the remaining $47 million of the bonds will be used to “have cash flow to move forward with all of the projects based on a projected draw schedule.”

The measure involving the parks, recreation and green space bonds — approved by voters in 2008 — was aimed at saving money.

“We are refinancing the eligible outstanding [bonds] at a lower interest rate to realize significant savings,” said David Gruen, the county’s chief financial officer.

“Based on recent market conditions, we are anticipating the refunding to result in present-value savings of just under $5 million over the life of the bond.”

Gruen noted the estimated savings is nearly $1 million more than initial projections.

“That is particularly significant here because this is a general obligation bond, meaning it's paid from only property taxes,” he said. “That's $5.8 million over the next 13, 14 years that will not need to come out of property taxes.”

Gruen said that the county's high credit rating and the underwriters at Citi were crucial in getting the deal.