By Jim Wilkerson
The Ruston City Council meeting that took place on Monday, Dec. 6, ended on a rather positive note when the Council unanimously voted to pass a resolution that authorized the issuance of up to $27 million of sales tax increment revenue refunding bonds.
Essentially, the resolution can be compared to a refinancing of a mortgage.
The finance team responsible for finalizing the deal with the bank included municipal advisor Lucius McGehee of the Argent Financial Group; bond counsel Wes Shafto of Boles, Shafto & Leonard, LLC; and underwriter Toby Cortez of the Stifel Institutional.
Cortez explained to the Council, “We were able to negotiate a rate that started out at 3 percent, and it went all the way down to 2.08 percent. Simply, just like a refinancing of your house, you’re exchanging higher rates for lower rates, and you save money.”
“It’s a good present for the season,” Cortez joked. “We were able to save $2.7 million over the life of the transaction for the sales tax district, and we were able to free up your debt service reserve fund that went to call bonds and reduce the debt that you actually have.”
McGehee complimented the Council, “This would not be possible if the City’s finances weren’t so strong. When you’re refinancing your mortgage, everybody looks at your credit, how you’re paying your bills, and how you’re handling your finances. That’s one of the things that’s happening here at the City.”
“Toby takes a little credit for working with the banker,” McGehee continued. “But the credit really goes to the City and administration for their sound financial management that allows it to happen.”
Mayor Ronny Walker thanked the finance team: “This is a great opportunity for the City, and we really appreciate all the hard work.”
Walker explained to those in the audience, “This is the tax incremental district that was established under Hilda Taylor Perritt, and because of that we’ve been able to do over the last, I guess, 25 years $40 million worth of work along the interstate.
“There’s only two (tax incremental districts) in the state – one in Monroe and one here. So, we appreciate previous mayors for doing something like that to put us in that position,” Walker ended.
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