Strong Financial Ratings Help County with Bond Acquisition

Orlando Tribune Lake County BondsLake County, Fl. — Lake County announces the sale of approximately $84 million in capital-improvement revenue bonds.  The Series 2007 Bonds will be payable from and secured by the proceeds of the local government half-cent sales tax and received by the County under Chapter 218, Part VI, of Florida Statutes.   That half-cent sales tax was voted and approved recently by Lake County citizens.

“The County issued $87.5 million of bonds on April 12, 2007, backed by sales tax, to support construction of much-needed government facilities in downtown Tavares,” said County Manager Cindy Hall.  “The facilities will include an expansion of our judicial center, the construction of a building to house Tax Collector and Property Appraiser services, a parking garage, and improvements to the county’s jail.”

Bond proceeds will be used for part of the costs of construction for the South Tavares Government Complex (including public works, public safety, fleet operations, and health related components) and the Downtown Tavares Center for Governmental Operations.

Lake County officials met with bond-rating companies during the third week of March.  Due to strong financial operations and substantial fund balances, low debt, strong population and tax base growth, the County received favorable bond ratings from the companies of Moody's (A1), Fitch (A+) and Standard & Poor's (A). 

"Lake County's track record of solid management has resulted in favorable bond ratings," said Hall. "This translates to better value for our customers, the residents of Lake County."

The Lake county local economy continues to grow and diversify, and has been shifting from a historical base in agriculture to a more service, retail and manufacturing-based economy.  According to the studies by Fitch, Lake County has experienced substantial growth largely related the migration of people out of Orange County.  Many surrounding counties, including Lake County, are benefiting from the overspill.  Lake County's population has increased 47% over the past decade, with even more growth expected by 2010.  The substantial population growth has fueled residential construction, with assessed values reaching $14.2 billion and market values measuring $18.9 billion in fiscal 2006, the latter representing a 145% increase over 1997 levels.

According to the Moody report, there are other favorable conditions happening in Lake County that made their backing of this bond a no-brainer.  According to their studies, in the last five years the county has reportedly attracted new businesses with nearly 2,100 new jobs created.  Also, the county's expanding health care industry includes four hospitals that are either new or newly renovated, and has created the need for higher-end residential housing.   The study also mentions the county airport, which recently achieved international airport status and is undergoing expansion.

“The County will also issue soon  $36 million of bonds, approved by a voter referendum authorizing tax proceeds to back the bonds,” said Hall. “These bonds will support the purchase and preservation of environmentally sensitive lands throughout the County.“

These bonds, for the 2004 voter-approved public lands referendum, are expected to go on sale next week.  The minimum investment for individuals is $5,000. Residents interested in investing in the future of Lake County bonds can contact Clint Tighe with Citigroup Bond Issue at 407-623-5619 or Janie Landherr with First Southwest  Company at 1-800-922-9850.