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$300-million bond pool expires July 1

Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday made official the demise of a controversial $300-million bond pool. By a unanimous vote, commissioners agreed to let the pool expire July 1.

When that happens, the county will get an estimated $2.16-million. That money represents what the county probably would have received during the life of the bond pool. Every six months, the county received about $185,000 from the bond issue, Commissioner John Richardson said.

The criminal-justice bond pool was set up in 1986 so local governments could borrow from it for capital improvements. None did.

Yet, over the past seven years, it produced $16-million in attorneys' and bankers' fees.

No one borrowed from the pool, County Attorney Bruce Snow said, because it did not offer a competitive interest rate.

In April, commissioners voted against allowing their financial adviser, Alex Brown & Sons, to study the feasibility of refinancing the bond pool at a lower, more competitive interest rate.

Two firms refused to underwrite the refinancing of the bonds, but a Texas firm showed interest. However, Richardson said he thought residents would be more comfortable dealing with someone on the local level.

Richardson said he would like to see the money invested in a new interest-bearing account that would pay out smaller amounts that would be used on infrastructure such as roads and water works in the county.