Suwanee refinances open space bonds

SUWANEE - In a move that will save more than $1 million over the next 24 years, the city of Suwanee has refinanced its voter-approved general obligation bonds.

The funds were originally borrowed in 2002 for the purpose of purchasing land for use as open space, parks and greenways. The original 30-year bonds totaled $17.7 million.

Since obtaining the bonds in March 2002, Suwanee has acquired about 240 acres of open space, created three new parks, extended its Suwanee Creek Greenway multipurpose trail and master-planned an additional park.

"Current market conditions were favorable for refinancing and, as a result, Suwanee will save about 5.5 percent on its annual open space bond payments," said Suwanee's Finance Services Director Amie Sakmar. "We were able to refinance the portion of the bonds that are due from 2012-2032, but the city will realize a significant savings immediately."

By refinancing, Suwanee will save more than $360,000 in 2007 and about $28,5000 each of the following years through 2032. This re-funding does not add any additional years to the debt.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. was awarded Suwanee's bonds as the top responsible bidder with a rate of 4.23 percent. The original bond rate obtained in 2002 was 5.15 percent.

Councilman Dan Foster congratulated Sakmar on her success in saving taxpayer money.

Land rezoned for bank

City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to rezone approximately 1.7 acres at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Suwanee Avenue from residential zoning to Old Town Commercial District zoning. Gwinnett Community Bank plans to build two buildings on the site, with the bank structure to be built first and the second building to be constructed at an undetermined date.

Tom Martin, chairman and CEO of Gwinnett Community Bank, said Tuesday night that he looks forward to partnering with the town of Suwanee. With respect to the part of the lot that will remain undeveloped for a time, Martin said that the area will be landscaped and maintained until construction on the second building begins.

Suwanee passes annual financial audit with flying colors

Joel Black, a representative from accounting firm Mauldin and Jenkins, gave a summary Tuesday night of the firm's 2005-06 audit of the city. According to Black, Suwanee is in good financial shape with a strong fund balance. Black also noted that the city enjoyed a sizeable population increase from 2005 to 2006.

Earlier this week, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's reaffirmed Suwanee's AA rating, indicating a strong financial position.

New city council, planning

commission meeting dates

New meeting dates for both the City Council and the planning commission were announced Tuesday night. The mayor and council will meet for their regularly scheduled council meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Planning commission workshops will be held on Thursday following the second Tuesday of each month.

According to mayor Nick Masino, the date changes will allow himself and the city council members more time to review and evaluate information that results from planning commission meetings.