City of Wichita Finance officials on Tuesday released the City’s annual financial report and announced a reduction of $111.6 million in outstanding debt obligations. The report revealed the City’s bonded debt was $893.8 million in 2013, down from more than $1 billion in 2012.
During 2013, the City only issued $12.8 million in new bonded debt, while bonded debt totaling $124.4 million was paid off and included $90.9 million in general obligation bonds and $33.5 million in revenue bonds.
The savings was reported in Finance Director Shawn Henning’s presentation during a regular City Council. Henning presented what is known as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, of CAFR. The report includes the City’s audited financial statements, other information on the City’s outstanding debt, the audit of federal programs, trend data and other information useful for rating agencies, grantor agencies, residents and other stakeholders.
Municipal bonds are the debt issued by a local government to finance projects. Bonds fall into several categories including general obligation bonds, also known as GO bonds, and revenue bonds. GO bonds are backed the general taxing authority of the city; revenue bonds, are paid off by the specific revenues, such as water revenues.
Also, the City saved $2.3 million in financing costs in 2013 by refinancing approximately $34.5 million in general obligation and local sales bonds. Mayor Carl Brewer and fellow Council members thanked City Manager Robert Layton and finance staffers.
Since 2009, the City has refinanced several series of outstanding bonds. The refinancing has resulted in savings of $28.3 million in financing costs over the remaining life of the bonds. Savings of $8.4 million pertain to Water and Sewer Utility Revenue bonds and the remaining savings of $19.9 million are associated with general obligation bonds.
These refinancing actions reduce City costs required to finance projects, benefiting both taxpayers and rate payers.
The CAFR also includes 10-year trend data signifying that the City’s assessed valuation has remained flat or declined slightly since 2008. This is a result of reappraisal and the state legislative tax exemption for machinery and equipment. The City has maintained a stable mill levy in spite challenges experienced since the Great Recession to deliver various services consistent with City Council priorities.