Cash

Refinancing certificates of participation (COPS) could save the city of Washington nearly $1 million.

At a special meeting Monday, the city council approved a resolution to work with Piper Jaffray and Co. to begin the process of refinancing Series 2012B Certificates. The special meeting was needed to begin the process as soon as possible, said City Administrator Darren Lamb.

The city has an outstanding principal of $27,245,000 on the bonds, Lamb said. The money was mostly tied into the Highway 100 expansion and the construction of the new library.

The final payment for the bonds is due in 2030. Lamb said the city began looking into refinancing to take advantage of a favorable market and save some money.

The original plan was to do the refinancing in 2018 after the April municipal election. Lamb said if voters were to approve the extension of the half-cent capital improvement sales tax for another eight years, the city was considering securing bonds to pay for some potential projects.

The last time the tax was approved was in 2010. Lamb said the bond market and construction market were both favorable so the city took advantage and used bond funds to start construction sooner.

After several meetings of the capital improvement sales committee, Lamb said it doesn’t appear there are any major projects that would need bond financing.

“There’s not the urgency we had back in 2010,” he said.

Michelle Bock with Piper Jaffray and Co. told the council the time was right to refinance. She said there’s a lot of “market volatility” right now as the U.S. Congress debates and discusses tax reform.

The ultimate decision could have an impact on interest rates, but Bock said the rates are already low enough. By refinancing now, she said the city would see savings of about $915,000 after taking out the cost to refinance.

Bock said by starting the process now, the city could have its bonds out on the market by early December. By waiting, it could be until early next year before any action is taken on the bonds.

By approving the resolution to work with Piper Jaffray and Co., Bock said she will be at the council meeting Monday, Nov. 20, to allow the city to take the next step.

The council voted unanimously to move forward with the refinancing. Councilman Mark Hidritch was absent from the meeting.