This New York Times article describes how the British chancellor of the Exchequer wants to pay off some debts that were originally issued as early as 1720. Borrowing money to cover old debt payments is nothing new, but the article piqued my curiosity about the age of Portland’s debts.
The same dynamics exist in Portland because our city typically uses part of the proceeds of newly-issued bonds to pay off older bonds. For example, in this $58 million urban renewal bond issue from 2000, nearly $10 million was used to redeem older urban renewal bonds issued in 1988 and 1992. I suspect that’s about how it goes decade after decade. It would be interesting to see how Portland’s debt has been refinanced over its history.