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County’s business acumen pays off

Many taxpayers don’t give a lot of thought to bond debt — tax rates and property valuations are typically on their minds because those are the factors that most directly affect their annual tax bills.

Property owners know that an increase in either the tax rate or their appraised values will wind up costing them more.

But there’s more than one way to save money, and Denton County taxpayers are a little better off now than they were a short time ago because of the latest sound money management move made by county officials.

Thanks to some timely refinancing of bond debt made possible by low interest rates and the county’s high bond rating, Denton County is $5 million less in debt, officials said.

What does that mean? The county saved about $5 million in real money, according to James Wells, the county’s auditor, at a total cost to the county of zero.

That’s right, Wells said the refinancing cost the county nothing.

Commissioners voted on the refinancing a few weeks ago and the process was recently completed. Bond refinancing is analogous to homeowners refinancing their mortgage to take advantage of better rates, Wells said.

The county had bonds from 2005 to 2006 that were issued at a much higher rate, Wells told us, and new bonds sold to help pay off the old ones will be much cheaper because rates are lower now.

Thanks to its strong finances, Denton County bonds are an attractive investment for those who want to hold government debt, he added.

The new bonds will help to keep some of the county’s current building projects, such as the jail expansion, a government building in Frisco, technology improvements and road projects approved by voters in 2008.

That’s good news.

“Any time we can save 5 million taxpayer dollars, that has my attention,” County Judge Mary Horn said.

We agree, and we admire county officials’ business acumen.

Their attention to detail is paying off for all county taxpayers.