Harford County government plans to sell $40 million in public improvement bonds on Tuesday, Feb. 9. A portion of the money from the sale will go toward the new Youth's Benefit Elementary School building currently under construction in Fallston.
Harford County government plans to sell $40 million in public improvement bonds on Tuesday, Feb. 9. A portion of the money from the sale will go toward the new Youth's Benefit Elementary School building currently under construction in Fallston. (ALLAN VOUGHT | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

Harford County will make another try at selling $40 million of public improvement bonds Tuesday morning, Feb. 9, with most of the money going to projects that are already under way.

The bond sale had been scheduled for Jan. 26 but was postponed because the county was still digging out from the blizzard the previous weekend.

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The bonds are sold through an electronic bidding process. Once the bids are tabulated, the winning bid will be ratified and the sale approved by the County Council in a special session scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

About two-thirds of the $40 million to be borrowed will be used for general capital or highway projects, County Treasurer Robbie Sandlass said last month, while the remaining third will be for water and sewer projects.

According to bond authorization legislation passed by the County Council in September, $13 million will be borrowed for the Youth's Benefit Elementary School building replacement, $2 million each for HVAC system replacement at the Center for Educational Opportunity in Aberdeen and Prospect Mill Elementary School, $2 million for the ongoing HMAN high-speed public broadband system and lesser amounts will be borrowed for several watershed restoration and bridge repair/replacement projects.

The bonds, which have a 20-year serial maturity, are carrying top ratings from all three major municipal bond rating agencies, as announced by Harford County Executive Barry Glassman last month.

Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's, gave Harford a Triple-A rating, Glassman said in a statement, also noting that Harford is only one of five counties in Maryland to earn the top rating of all three agencies.

The top credit ratings will mean Harford's newest debt should bring the lowest interest rates in the marketplace, Glassman and several other county officials said.

Glassman said each rating agency "cited the county's economic diversity and strong management," while Fitch also noted the county's adherence to "conservative debt management guidelines."

Standard & Poor's, Glassman's statement continued, noted the county's "very strong management, with strong financial management policies and practices …", and Moody's said: "The county benefits from prudent and active financial management. In fiscal 2015, the county took steps to right size staffing, reduce costs by outsourcing services when financially beneficial and reduce non-essential capital spending."

Following the rating announcement, county council members praised the administration's efforts to keep the high ratings.

Harford last sold bonds in early April 2015, when a $45 million consolidated public improvement issue brought a low average interest rate of 2.62 percent from among five bidders. The county sold a similar $40 million issue in 2014 for an average rate of 3.04 percent.

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