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April 10, 2013

Council approves hospital bond refinance

NORMAN — The Norman City Council gave the thumbs up Tuesday night to a revenue bond refinance proposed by the Norman Regional Health System Board that will result in a savings of $3.68 million.

The health system is a public trust and approval for debt issuance is required by the Norman City Council. With interest rates at an all-time low, the opportunity to save through refinance arose for $27.385 million worth of 2002 bonds.

In January, Siemens Public Inc. offered to purchase $25 million of tax-exempt debt from the hospital authority.

The new bonds are projected at an average interest rate of 3.73 percent, with 10-year terms replacing the 2002 bond’s average rates of 5.45 percent.

Like the 2002 bonds, the new debt will be refinanced as revenue bonds “secured only by the proceeds generated from the operations of the NRHS. No city of Norman revenues, property or credit was pledged to secure” either series of bonds, according to city staff notes.

The original bond issues totaled $55 million, and much of that debt has been repaid. The new bond issuance will be for $25 million.

In other city business, two potentially controversial items were postponed.

A high-density project proposed for 710 Asp Ave. was postponed again until May 14 at the request of the applicant, Mark Risser. The project has encountered opposition from some residential neighbors and at least one Campus Corner merchant. The project is located in the Campus Corner district.

Currently, the Norman City Council is creating special zoning districts to allow for higher levels of density than is currently allowable by the city’s Mixed Use Development or Planned Unit Development zoning.

Campus Corner is one area under consideration as a possible High-Density Zoning Overlay District. However, Ward 4 Council member Greg Jungman, among others, are pushing to keep building height requirements limited to three or four stories in that area.

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