Hillsborough County, Florida, sold $53.4 million in bonds to protect and restore environmentally sensitive lands.
The bonds include $21.7 million in serials maturing between 2024 and 2048 and yielding between 2.63% and 3.71%. They also include a $31.7 million term bond maturing on July 1, 2053, and yielding 3.8%. All of the bonds pay interest at 5%. The securities received a rating of AAA from Fitch Ratings, Aaa from Moody’s Investors Service, and AAA from S&P Global Ratings.
The rating reflects “a low long-term liability burden and strong financial performance, characterized by a history of maintenance of high levels of reserves even through periods of severe economic volatility,” according to Fitch.
Environmentalists say rapid development of Hillsborough County has spurred a need for preservation of environmentally sensitive land. The county will use proceeds from the bonds to acquire, preserve, protect, manage, and restore lands which protect wildlife habitats, natural areas, drinking water sources, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and bays.
Hillsborough is located on Florida’s west coast and includes the city of Tampa. Like other Florida counties, it has grown at a rapid pace in the past decade. As of the 2022 census, the county has a population of 1.5 million, up 23% from 2010.
The bonds are general obligations of the county, backed by its full faith and credit and secured by property taxes.
BofA Securities Inc served as underwriter on the issuance, purchasing the bonds for $59 million. The price reflected an original issue premium of $6 million.