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$23M bond could fund DHS plans

By Michael McNutt Published: November 30, 2007
The existing shelter is in structures built in the late 1940s; the new shelter could open in October 2009, he said.

Other bond projects:

•$6.3 million to buy and renovate a 33-year-old, five-story office building in part for DHS employees who are being displaced from a downtown Tulsa office building. Workers could move into the building as early as March.

•About $4.5 million to build a DHS county office building in Ada. The Pontotoc County Health Department plans to build an adjacent building. The two entities have an agreement to proportionately share costs of design services and another agreement is pending to share construction and maintenance costs. The DHS center and county health building are scheduled to open in June 2009.

•$4.4 million to build a county office building in Sapulpa. The existing DHS office is in an old post office building and is too small. DHS leases another building in downtown Sapulpa. The new building is expected to open in September 2009.

State's debt burden manageable, report says
The state of Oklahoma has a way to go yet to reach its borrowing capacity, according to a report prepared by the state's bond adviser.

Payments this fiscal year for the state's approximately $1.5 billion in various bond issues will total about $157 million, or about 2.6 percent of the state's general fund appropriations of about $6 billion, said Jim Joseph, the state's bond adviser.

Based on existing bond issues, the state's total annual debt payments continue to decrease the next three years as the general revenue fund increases, the report states. The percentage would be 2.2 percent for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2011.

Increasing the annual debt service to 3.5 percent of the state's general fund appropriations this fiscal year would mean the state could finance an additional $836 million in 25-year bond issues; increasing the annual debt service to 3 percent would mean the state could finance an additional $376.8 million in 25-year bond issues, according to the report.

"It depends on what level you feel comfortable with,” Joseph said. "If you think 3.5 percent is a comfortable level, then you can do a lot more borrowing.”

Oklahoma consistently ranks among the lowest debt per capita. One rating agency, Moody's ranks Oklahoma 39th in debt per capita.

"We need to be careful not to restrict our borrowing to the extent that it affects our major maintenance and keeping up with our infrastructure needs,” Joseph said. "I don't think we're by any measure overextended. The capacity is there.”

Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau


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