At yesterday’s pricing of its first bond issue in eight years, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County secured an extremely favorable 3.845% total interest rate cost, the lowest rate ever obtained by the District on any such deal.
Standard & Poor’s recently upgraded the District’s credit rating to AA, a move that reflected the market’s confidence in Forest Preserve District Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s leadership and generated a high level of investor interest in the sale. The transaction was oversubscribed by investors, allowing the District to decrease interest costs even lower as the transaction developed.
Net proceeds for capital projects were $110 million, surpassing expectations by about $5 million due to the favorable market. In addition, market conditions and investor interest were so strong that the District was able to refinance an additional $25 million of bonds for present value savings in excess of $1.5 million.
The deal was done with 100% MBE firms for Underwriters and Underwriters Counsel.
“We are incredibly pleased with the outcome of this bond sale today,” said President Preckwinkle. “The Forest Preserves are a priceless natural resource, but taking care of them has a cost. We need to invest in our preserves, and such favorable pricing will further our goal of preserving our lands and providing opportunities for the public to enjoy them.”
The proceeds will be used to:
- Increase the land acquisition budget to allow for strategic purchases that will fill gaps in the 300-mile trail system and add to the District’s forests, prairies and savannas. The District is currently in the process of updating its Land Acquisition Plan, which will be used to guide the land acquisition priorities;
- Address deferred maintenance issues, including repairs and replacement of existing bridges, plumbing systems, and other infrastructure needs. These projects will be selected from those outlined in the District’s 2012-2016 Capital Improvement Plan;
- Provide major exhibit renovations at the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Gardens, both of which are located on District property and funded in part by the District.
- Fund new projects such as additions to camping and recreational offerings. The District is currently undergoing the process of developing new Master Camping and Recreation Plans in order to identify these projects.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.