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Fitzgerald wants Allegheny County to issue $247M in bonds

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 11:18 p.m.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is asking county council members to issue up to $247 million in bonds to refinance debt and pay for bridge and road work and other projects.

About two-thirds of the money — $165 million — would go toward refinancing 2004 bonds.

Councilman Michael Finnerty, D-Scott, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, said similar deals in the past saved the county millions in interest payments. Finnerty has not talked with the county administration about details of the proposal.

Council will meet on Tuesday. The proposal will likely be sent to Finnerty's committee for further debate. County spokeswoman Amie Downs said the administration would give information to council before making it public.

Fitzgerald wants council to approve $82 million to help fund capital projects in 2015 and 2016.

Potential projects include repairs to the 10th, 6th, 7th and 9th Street bridges, Bower Hill and Painter's Run roads, and an overhaul of the Homeville Viaduct in West Mifflin, according to the county's most recent fiscal plan.

The county last issued bonds in July 2013. Of the $225.8 million issued, $176 million refinanced debt and $49.8 million went toward capital projects.

The county's bond ratings recently improved. In January, the ratings agency Standard & Poor's bumped up the county's rating from an A-plus to a AA-minus. Fitzgerald attributed the upgrade to an increase in the county's cash reserves, reduced reliance on one-time revenue and state lawmakers' passage of transportation funding and pension reform legislation.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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