Housed for years in a small section of the New Scotland Avenue School, the Bach branch of Albany Public Library was newly built in 2010 // Photo: APL
Albany Public Library is sharing a gift with the people of Albany this holiday season — savings on their library taxes. The library has announced that it is able to save $200,000 each year for the next 20 years by refinancing the 2007 Branch Improvement Plan bonds, which funded the construction of two library branches and renovation of three others.
“We are thrilled to save Albany taxpayers $200,000 a year through the new bond,” said APL Executive Director Scott Jarzombek. “The project is a similar concept to refinancing a home mortgage, where a new interest rate results in lower annual payments. By refinancing our branch construction bonds, the library is saving a total of $4 million over the 20-year life of the bond. This is significant savings for Albany Public Library and the city’s taxpayers.”
The new bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Services, just one notch below the top grade of AAA and the same rating as New York State. According to the credit opinion issued by Moody’s, “The Aa1 rating reflects the library district’s moderately-sized tax base, moderate resident income levels, ample reserves and liquidity, and minimal debt burden.” The skill of the library’s management team and strong financial administration were also cited.
“Our careful and prudent stewardship of the library’s finances is evidenced by the excellent credit rating assigned by Moody’s,” said Jarzombek. “That Aa1 rating helped pave the way for a very successful sale of our Branch Improvement Plan bonds, resulting in a savings of $4 million to the people of Albany.”
“The people of Albany are the true winners of this process,” said Mary-Ellen Piché, president of the Albany Public Library Board of Trustees. “The savings we achieved from refinancing the bonds will go back into taxpayers’ pockets and help the library maintain the high quality services, programs, and materials our patrons expect and deserve.”
The new bonds, like those originally sold in 2007, are issued by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). The bond refinancing project took about four months for APL to complete, working with DASNY and a finance team. The bond deal officially closed last Wednesday, Dec. 7.
“DASNY is proud to partner with Albany Public Library and support the role it plays as a center for learning, gathering, and advancement in its community,” said Gerrard P. Bushell, DASNY president and CEO. “This refunding is a testament to DASNY’s effort to provide libraries in New York State with a low-cost financing alternative that helps them better serve New Yorkers.”
During the 2018 budget process, the library’s elected Board of Trustees will clarify the savings impact on taxpayers. The next board meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 6:00 pm at the Arbor Hill/West Hill Branch. Library board meetings are open to the public and include public comment periods at the start and end of each meeting.
The refinancing project secured a lower interest rate on the original bonds, thereby decreasing the tax levy for the physical libraries and reducing the cost to Albany taxpayers. The new $22.8 million, 20-year bonding will save taxpayers an average of $200,000 each year, or a total of $4.002 million over the life of the bonds. The original 30-year, $29.1 million bonds were sold in 2007, after voter approval, to fund the renovation of three library branches and construction of two new branches. Those libraries—Arbor Hill/West Hill, Bach, Delaware, Howe, and Pine Hills—opened between November 2009 and June 2010 and were named “Best Use of Public Funds” by Metroland magazine.