When the Osceola County commissioners and staff announced a plan in November to refinance the transportation revenue bonds originally used to build Osceola Parkway, and get over $200 million in funds to improve some of the county’s busiest roads, it sounded like free money. The county is trying to keep it that way.
County Manager Don Fisher noted during Monday’s Commission meeting the county is in discussions with the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Walt Disney World’s governing body for land matters, over a $2.3 million prepayment penalty Reedy Creek says the county is liable for since it’s using the new bonds to pay off original Parkway construction costs early.
The figure represents the difference in what the the two sides think is due in interest, since the interest rate in the re-finance is much lower than it was in the 1990s when the bonds to build the Parkway were taken out. Fisher said the county drafted an estoppel letter to quickly fix this, since the county is set to close on the refinance transaction Thursday, with a pre-closing meeting Tuesday (today). Delaying it would mean essentially starting the process over, including hammering out a new rate with those who are assuming the new bonds.
“When we went to market we received extremely favorable terms and an outstanding interest rate. We saved about $10 million.” If we started over, who knows where we’d end up.”
This detail has come up in short order, much to the chagrin of Commission members.
“I understand how this works, and it aggravates me we might be spending over $2 million that we could be spending on one of our transportation needs we are in such desperate need of,” Commissioner Cheryl Grieb said. “I’m hoping they can see that we’ve been working in good faith on this for while, and to come down to this point, I just don’t that’s fair.”
Commissioner Brandon Arrington made a motion to give county staff the power to take any legal steps needed to enforce original agreements with no pre-payment penalties or ones that allowed them to be paid at any time.
“We’ll find out (sometime Tuesday) that we’ll receive the estoppel letter and not (have to) pay this $2.2 million, but that’s in Reedy Creek’s hands,” Fisher said.
The $200 million was scheduled to widen, by 2025: Poinciana Boulevard, from Pleasant Hill to Crescent Lake Way; Simpson Road, from U.S. Highway 192 to Osceola Parkway; Boggy Creek Road, from Narcoosee Road to Simpson Road; Partin Settlement Road, from Neptune Road to Lakeshore Boulevard (basically, the whole thing). The plan would also enable parts of Bill Beck Boulevard from Osceola Parkway to Woodcrest Boulevard to be connected, and help enhance Parkway connections to other roads.