Last month, Officials with LUS and Lafayette Consolidated Government met with bond rating agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's in New York to give a detailed presentation on the fiber project. LUS Director Terry Huval fielded a number of questions from the agencies on everything from state law and lawsuits affecting the project to the overall financial health of LUS, LCG, and the regional economy.
Louisiana state law provides LUS can only indirectly back the bonds on the project, through fair market loans to its new communications division. "We're plowing through a lot of new territory here," Huval says. "I don't know if there's been very many entities that have issued bonds for a communications system like this. So there's a lot of attention being given here."
At the end of the day, Standard and Poor's gave the project an A- rating and Moody's awarded an A2. Both ratings are only one step below LUS' regular utility bond rating of A and A1. But with bond insurance, purchased through XL Capital, LUS will still receive a AAA rating with investors. That translates into an interest rate slightly under 5 percent for the approximately $110.45 million in bonds LUS is selling for the project.
"We were very pleased with those results," Huval says. "We've got the best rating we could have hoped to have gotten out of this." He adds that the bond agencies spoke highly of both LUS' ability to handle large projects, such as the two new generating plants that were built on time and on budget, as well as the merits of the fiber initiative. "They commented favorably about our commitment and vision on the project," Huval says. "I think they also saw that this could be a very powerful thing for a community to be able to do."
LUS' bond sale faced multiple lawsuits related to the public utility's ability to back up the sale on behalf of its communications start-up. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of LUS on the issue, allowing it to move forward with its bond sale. LUS first introduced its initiative to operate a citywide network offering phone, cable and high-speed internet to residents in 2004. City voters approved a measure to allow LUS the ability to issue up to $125 million in bonds for the project nearly two years ago, in July 2005. Huval says the legal delays, brought both by BellSouth and mysterious resident-opponent Elizabeth Naquin, have unintentionally helped the project in some ways. "Technology-wise and know-how wise, we now have a number of advantages as a result of the delays," Huval says. "There's a lot more experience that folks have and the engineering company we brought in, Atlantic Engineering, is already providing us a lot of insight."
This summer, LUS will work on preparing a bid package for construction of the project, which should be under way before the end of the year. LUS hopes to begin serving its first customers starting in 2009.
Despite sweeping changes enacted by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, the health insurance program for state workers and public school employees will have to use $88 million from its reserve fund to cover its costs this year.
The LPSB races are sure to get heated between now and Nov. 4, and with only 9 available seats, this year's field of 20 candidates will surely be wanting to set themselves apart from the crowd early; they'll get their chance next week, starting Tuesday with the kick-off of a three-day series of candidate forums.
Lawmakers say they've received complaints that waits have spiked, with people being forced to wait in line for more than an hour — and sometimes three hours — to handle routine tasks.
The campaign announced that Rep. Stuart Bishop of District 43 and Nancy Landry, District 31, have thrown their support behind the Naval Academy graduate and entrepreneur in his bid to unseat current Hunter Beasley in District 8.
A Lafayette man with an alleged taste for child porn was busted Thursday evening during a cyber crime sting launched by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister says his chief of staff is on temporary leave after being booked with drunken driving.
It was a rare moment in Congress this week as Republicans briefly put aside partisanship in support of President Barack Obama's request to train and arm Syrian rebels, and while a number of Democrats opposed the measure, Louisiana's Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu found herself on the same side of the issue as her Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
U.S. District Judge Richard Haik has dismissed Greg Davis’ lawsuit against the LPSB, yet in his ruling, the federal judge doesn’t bite his tongue in pointing out the "threat" being posed by certain board members.
Of all the political offices being contested throughout Lafayette Parish, the race for Broussard’s top police post has literally become one of the most heated.
A state district judge is deciding whether to issue an injunction against the enforcement of a last-minute retirement hike that lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent.
A new website is up for Louisiana's state government employees and retirees to choose their health insurance plans for next year, a choice they must make by October.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.