Debt Management

DEBT 101: Issuing Bonds and Your Continuing Obligations

Debt 101 Cover Image

Issuing debt results in major responsibilities that many public finance professionals undertake with limited experience and typically as a secondary or tertiary responsibility to their main duties of preparing the budget, meeting payroll deadlines, issuing the comprehensive annual financial report, or addressing the hundreds of other assignments that come up from time-to-time. But issuing debt and the responsibilities that follow once the bond sale is complete cannot be taken lightly and possibly could create an unanticipated burden not foreseen at the beginning of the process.

This document provides the reader with a basic understanding of what a bond is, who the typical players are, what you need to be thinking about from a legal standpoint, what are the structuring considerations, how bonds get sold, your responsibilities during and, as important, following the bond sale so long as the bonds remain outstanding, and will also provide a brief overview of alternative financing products. This document is not going to make you an expert; however, will provide you with a framework from which to understand the mechanics and responsibilities that come with going to the public markets. In addition, references are provided to more detailed Best Practices, Advisories and other resources. The GFOA strongly advises that issuers wishing to proceed with a debt financing review these resources as well.

  • Publication date: April 2020