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“Invest in US” Encourages Individual Investment in City’s Capital Projects

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega “Invest in US” Encourages Individual Investment in City’s Capital Projects
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The City Auditor’s office has announced an initiative that’ll make it easier for residents to invest in the City of Columbus.

On Oct. 2-3, the City will sell off just under $400 million in bonds for street improvements, a new Linden Community Center, and other capital projects. As part of the Invest in US program, more individuals than ever before will have the opportunity to buy in to the city’s debt portfolio, as the city has lowered its bond denominations to $1,000.

“Social investing has been widely popular in the last 10 years, there’s been a huge uptick,” says City Auditor Megan Kilgore. “This is an opportunity for citizens who are living in Columbus or workers who are coming into the city to work to actually invest in the same assets and the same infrastructure that they use.”

City bonds are typically a low-risk investment; cities rarely go bankrupt, and Columbus specifically has an AAA rating from each of the three ratings agencies, the equivalent of a perfect credit score for an individual.

Voters have helped solidify that AAA rating by approving 90 out of the last 96 bond packages proposed by the city. While it’s never had to happen, voters’ approval on these measures means that, if for some reason the City cannot pay back its debts, property taxes may be risen to cover them.

The last bond package to be approved by voters was for $950 million in 2016, and during their meeting last Monday, Columbus City Council voted to issue bonds from that package, which will cover clean water, a new fire station, and recreation and parks improvements.

The usual $5,000 denomination will still be available along with the $1,000 denomination, with both tax-exempt and taxable options available to interested investors. Kilgore said the $1,000 denomination was the lowest the city could go without raising the cost of issuing the bonds.

Interested investors won’t buy bonds directly from the city, but through a brokerage firm. Kilgore says the city tried to eliminate barriers to investing by setting up relationships with local firms carrying a lot of “retail,” or individual, accounts, including Huntington, Key Bank, and Fifth Third.

The bond sale is set for Oct. 2-3, with priority sale to individual buyers on Oct. 2.

For more information, visit columbus.gov/auditor/Investinus/Buy-Bonds-Home.

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