NO convention center to refinance bonds

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(AP) — The authority that oversees the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center will be able to save at least $6 million in interest costs on its outstanding bonds based on action taken by the State Bond Commission.

The commission on Thursday approved without objection the issuance of $75 million in refunding bonds for the Convention Center.

The new bonds are designed to refinance 1996 and 1998 issues that paid for building and equipping the third phase of the center’s expansion as well as bonds issued in 2000 to buy additional property for the fourth expansion, according to Bond Commission analyst Carrie Chen.

She said the savings on the 1996 issue will be about $2.7 million, about $1.56 million on the 1998 issue and about $1.8 million on the 2000 bonds.

The interest rates on the 1996 bonds will drop from a range of 5.4 percent to 5.6 percent to a spread of 3 percent to 5 percent, while the rates on the 1998 bonds will go from 5 percent to as low as 3 percent. The rates on the 2000 bonds will drop from a range of 5 percent to 5.25 percent to 3 percent to 4 percent, Chen said.

The commission also approved without debate the issuance of $21 million in bonds for the city of Kenner to build extensions and improvements to its wastewater collection, treatment and disposal system.

Commission spokeswoman Lela Folse said the city won approval from the commission for $35 million in bonds in March 2011 but used only $16 million of that and shelved the use of the other $19 million.

Folse said the issuance approved Thursday replaces the financing not used.