Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New Hanover County reduces debt repayments to save over $8 million

New Hanover County took advantage of current low interest rates to refund a loan for the new Ogden Fire Station and Pine Valley Library. (Port City Daily/Courtesy of New Hanover County)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — New Hanover County will save more than $8 million in the coming years on interest fees after some savvy bond refunding by the finance department, according to the county.

In an online post, County Manager Chris Coudriet explained his staff regularly keeps an eye on current interest costs that could reduce its remaining debt. Most recently, it took advantage of historically low rates to refund bonds for Cape Fear Community College projects, as well as a loan for the new Ogden Fire Station and Pine Valley Library.

The total net present value savings will top $8.7 million by the end of the debts’ lives.

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“Saving taxpayer money is something that New Hanover County strives to do every day,” Coudriet noted in a statement Friday. “It’s foundational to our strategy and vision of modeling good governance. We want to make sure we use the public resources entrusted to us wisely, and always ensure we are being good stewards.”

The county manager said by reducing expenses, in turn, the county may keep taxes and fees down.

Roughly 14% of 2010 bonds for the community college were refunded, a total net present savings of $4,254,271. Annually, it’s an average savings of $435,000.

Close to 12% of the outstanding debt for 2013 bonds for the college projects were also refunded, yielding a savings of $3,425,237. The payments will decrease by $251,000 on average.

The county also refunded nearly 15% of outstanding debt from a bank loan taken out in 2018 for the construction of the Pine Valley Library and Ogden Fire Station. The refunding produced $1,083,201 in net present value savings and will drop the payments by about $97,000 yearly.

The bond refunding will shore up money for future projects and services rather than interest.

“Effectively, that’s $8 million in revenue we don’t have to raise to meet things our community needs and wants,” Coudriet said. “This is really great news for our taxpayers and our county, and I appreciate the work of our Finance team and the leadership of the Board of Commissioners in making stewardship a priority and a value that the county embraces and acts on.”

In December, the county also took advantage of falling interest rates with the redevelopment of the Government Center after the LGC struck down its proposal to enter into a lease-to-own arrangement with the developer, according to WHQR. Rather than lease the new facility from Cape Fear FD Stonewater, the LGC told the county it should instead take out its own 20-year debt, saving taxpayers more than $20 million.

New Hanover County maintains a AAA rating, which helps it prove a reputation of creditworthiness and secure low borrowing rates. The local government has received the highest attainable rating from both Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s since the early 2000s.

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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