Westerville City Council is considering refinancing some of the city's outstanding bonds, with a goal of saving more than $1-million in debt payments.

Westerville City Council is considering refinancing some of the city's outstanding bonds, with a goal of saving more than $1-million in debt payments.

Council heard the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday, April 21, that would provide for the issuance and sale of bonds not to exceed $21-million in order to refund bonds issued by the city for three large projects undertaken in the late 1990s.

"Earlier this year, (finance director) Jack Winkel evaluated our debt issues, looking for ways to roll some of our debt into a lower rate for long-term savings," city manager Dave Collinsworth said. "Three areas were identified for possible refinancing."

Those included:

$27.25-million in bonds issued in 1998 to fund the PROS parks and recreation facilities improvements, which provided for construction of the Westerville Community Center, land purchases for that property and other projects.

$4-million approved in 1998 for improving and extending Cleveland Avenue.

$2.2-million approved in 1999 for improvements to Westerville's electric division, which included constructing an administration operations facility, improvements to the existing warehouse and other work.

Those projects had an original principal issue amount of $33,450,000 and have a current outstanding bond principal amount of $20,485,000, according to Winkel's report.

Under current market conditions, the interest on Westerville's debt is 4.72 percent, according to the report. The proposed ordinance would refinance about $19.695-million of that debt, reducing the interest to 3.17 percent.

This refinancing would result in a savings of about $1.073-million over the next 11 years, according to Winkel.

"We believe these (three areas) to be our best opportunity to gain additional savings," Collinsworth said.

Councilman Eric Busch said the debt restructuring should seem familiar to the typical Westerville resident.

"This is the same as any homeowner refinancing their debt," Busch said. "As long as we have our I's dotted and T's crossed, this is the smart thing to do."

lrice@thisweeknews.com