M&T Bank will handle Blair County’s bond financing

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County commissioners agreed Tuesday to use M&T Bank for bond financing that will generate as much as $6 million to cover the cost of reassessment, plus additional projects such as waterproofing the courthouse and employee parking garage.

Representatives for M&T and RBC Wealth Management of Hollidaysburg spoke recently to commissioners and pledged to get the lowest interest rates on behalf of the county.

Finance Director Robert Kuntz made no specific recommendation while offering his input to commissioners at their weekly meeting.

“They’re both very good firms,” Kuntz said. “We wouldn’t make a mistake by going with one over another.”

Kuntz said both companies offered examples of performing better than competitors during past pursuits. But the results of their efforts on behalf of Blair County, Kuntz said, won’t be realized until the bonds are sold.

“So it’s difficult to determine who will get the best rate for us?” Commissioner Diane Meling asked.

“One could do better one time, the other could do better the next,” Kuntz said.

Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. suggested using M&T, considering its good track record with the county’s bond issues in 2007 and 2011.

When the decision comes down to “a coin flip,” Commissioner Terry Tomassetti said he would choose the local firm. RBC Wealth Management is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada with an office in Hollidaysburg.

“Even though M&T is based elsewhere, it remains and continues to have a strong local presence,” Tomassetti said.

M&T already has a significant portion of the county’s pension fund, Meling pointed out.

“But I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other so I could support M&T,” Meling said.

Kuntz said the $6 million bond issue is supposed to be set up so the county makes its first payment in 2017, the year after it finishes payment on an earlier bond issue.

Commissioners also agreed Tuesday to use Dinsmore & Shohl of Pittsburgh to handle the legal work associated with the bond issue. Solicitor Nathan Karn made the recommendation and reported an anticipated fee of $10,000 to $12,000. Dinsmore & Shohl also handled the legal work with the 2011 bond issue.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.