DeKalb approves $615M in bonds for water, sewer projects

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

CEO touts “stable” outlook and credit rating

DeKalb County moved ahead Tuesday on the issuance of more than $615 million in bonds, money it will use to cover the cost of recent water and sewer infrastructure projects and pay for many more in the future.

The issuance will also allow the county to refinance existing bonds and save about $48.5 million in future interest payments.

The DeKalb County commission voted 5-0-1 to issue the 30-year bonds, with District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson absent and District 2 Commissioner Jeff Rader abstaining. Rader had previously raised concerns about the issue, saying the county could’ve saved much more on the refinancing had it acted sooner.

ExploreA year into new consent decree, DeKalb making progress on sewer repairs

Citing the commission’s own rules on debt issuance, CEO Michael Thurmond and the administration wanted a financial advisor in place before moving forward and balked at suggestions they hire one without a competitive bidding process.

That process was concluded last month with the selection of PFM Financial Advisors. A week later, the commission gave the go-ahead for the county to pursue the new bonds.

Tuesday’s vote locked in the 3.85% interest rate offered by Bank of America, the lowest among six bidders.

DeKalb County is under a federal consent decree to repair and replace much of its sewer system, which was neglected for decades. It’s also undergoing an extensive overhaul of the water system.

Thurmond, meanwhile, touted the “stable” outlook and Aa3 credit rating that Moody’s Investors Services provided related to the bonds. The firm said a “strong economic base, prudent financial management and capital planning and future revenue growth will help mitigate the substantial borrowing.”

“With the support of the Board of Commissioners, DeKalb County will be able to acquire financial resources needed to complete the work detailed in the federal consent decree modification,” Thurmond said in a press release issued late Tuesday.