ALACHUA COUNTY. FL – Alachua County invites the public to a “Bond Burning” on Friday, October 14, 2016, at 9 a.m. The event is on the bridge of Sweetwater Preserve (309 S.E. 16th Avenue, Gainesville), located on the east side of the intersection of Williston Road and S.E. 16th Avenue (Click to view a map to the bond burning event). Parking is available on the S.E. 16th Avenue spur road. This event celebrates the early retirement of the second and final Alachua County Forever (ACF) Land Acquisition Bond.
The bonds were issued to finance a land acquisition program, as approved by voter referendum in November of 2000. The purpose of the program was to protect local water resources, fish and wildlife habitat, and to provide new resource-based recreation opportunities for our citizens. The referendum authorized the issuance of $29 million in Environmental Land Acquisitions Bonds, with repayment in 20 years or less. The ACF bonds were combined with matching state, federal and non-governmental acquisition funds to make possible the purchase of 14,893 acres of lands valued at $56,779,151.
“Thanks to the diligence of Clerk of the Court J.K. ‘Buddy’ Irby and his Finance Director Todd Hutchison, the County's short-term financing strategy resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest savings,” said Alachua County Commission Chair Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson. “And we were enormously successful at leveraging these dollars to acquire and preserve these precious lands.”
The debt was paid for by a levy of up to ¼ mill on all taxable property within the County. The County intentionally issued debt with the flexibility to prepay the debt without penalty using proceeds collected from the ¼ mill in excess of the required debt service payments. Through a combination of just-in-time funding, low-interest rates and County increases in taxable assessed values, the County was able to pay the first 10-year bond off in 8 years.
The County issued the second and final bond issuance on December 16, 2010, with a 10-year maturity, and refinanced that issuance in 2012 because of very low interest rates. Given the combination of lower interest rates and the ability to pre-pay the loan before the scheduled maturity, the County paid off the second loan in full by July 2016.
“The Alachua County Forever program is a good example of a promise made and a promise kept,” said Alachua County Manager Lee A. Niblock, “In this case the second bond, payoff was 3½ years earlier than anticipated.”
For more information, contact Communications and Legislative Affairs Director Mark Sexton at 352-264-6979.