Pitkin County to sell $10 million worth of bonds | VailDaily.com

Pitkin County to sell $10 million worth of bonds

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Even though interest rates are higher than desirable, Pitkin County will be selling up to $10 million worth of general obligation bonds before the end of the year to finance its rush to buy open space.

The county commissioners, meeting Wednesday in Aspen, gave their nod to the increase in the county’s bonded indebtedness, which goes back to voter approval in 2006 for up to $20 million in bonds for open space purchases.

“This bonding authorization allows the county to purchase more open space now than the annual opens space property tax revenue of approximately $6 million would allow,” wrote county staffer Tom Oken in a memo to the commissioners.

He reported Pitkin County overspent its “open-space acquisition fund” by “approximately $2 million” in 2007. Adding to that the roughly $6 million in open space purchases this year, Oken reported that he reasoned that what was needed was $10 million in bonds “so that we begin next year with approximately $2 million in reserve in the Open Space fund.”

The bond sale should be limited to $10 million, he wrote, “to obtain the most favorable interest rates.” He said that if the county sells $10 million or less, the interest paid to the buyers is classified as tax-exempt income, which makes the bonds attractive to banks.

And in the current market crisis, Oken said, banks are much more likely to be willing to buy bonds than other traditional customers.

The commissioners approved the bond sale unanimously, and quickly did the same for contracts to buy two new open space properties.

The county is buying seven parcels of land near Redstone, totaling approximately 266 acres, in exchange for $1.75 million and seven transferable development rights ” one TDR per parcel.

In addition, the county is buying the Larson property, some 9.4 acres of land perched between Highway 133 and the Crystal River near the Filoha Meadows Nature Preserve, just north of Redstone. The price tag for that property is $550,000.


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