DALLAS - Tom Pollard, the only executive director of the Texas Bond Review Board Since it was organized in 1987. plans to resign effective Nov. 30.
Mr. Pollard, 43, said he is moving to New Mexico after a year of deliberation over a new career opportunity for his wife. Christine.
"This is a family decision," said Mr, Pollard, who runs the 12-person agency that reviews all statelevel debt issues. "It's a great professional opportunity for her that we could not pass up."
His wife, a health physicist, will open an office for an engineering firm in New Mexico. She will advise on nuclear cleanups at the federal government's Los Alamos center and other projects.
Mr. Pollard said yesterday that he hopes to remain in government work and preferably in the public finance business. He has discussed possible opportunities with private and public officials in New Mexico.
But he said he will miss heading the agency in his native Texas.
"I've enjoyed working here because it has been very fulfilling," he said. "This is one of the best jobs in state government. "
The board has not yet begun a search for a new director since Mr. Pollard's resignation has not been formally submitted or accepted. State officials were not available for comment yesterday.
Mr. Pollard was named first executive director of the agency in 19.87 after serving five years as the chief revenue forecaster in the Texas comptroller's office under Bob Bullock, who is now lieutenant governor.
Before his decade-long stint in state government. Mr. Pollard was an economist in the academic arena. He holds a doctorate in economics awarded in 1980 by the University of Texas in Austin.
Mr. Pollard said the debt oversight board started up at the same time Texas began using debt for many of its needs, after the state's economic crisis of the mid-1980s.
In 1987, the state had just lost its triple-a rating, and lawmakers and voters approved plans to sell up to $1 billion of debt for the Superconducting Super Collider project. At that time, they began what has grown into a record $2 billion debt-financed expansion of the state prison system.
By yearend, then-gov. Bill Clements and others had created the bond review board to oversee state bond sales.
"I think there's a connection between the two," said Mr. Pollard. "I think lawmakers could see the need for the bond review board as the state was starting to use more debt. "
Later, he added, "I think we have a more competitive, orderly process. We don't have multiple issuers going to the market at the S=e time, which is one reason.the board was started. "
But while state officials have endorsed the oversight process, man,y in the bond industry have privately argued that such an agency is unnecessary.
one reason may be that since the review board was created, the cost of selling debt has declined nearly 35%. While lower overall spreads nationally have been the trend, Mr. Pollard said he and his agency "had a part" in reducing debt costs in the state.
Last year, the state reported average cost of issuance at $12.26 per $ 1 000 of bonds. down sharply from the $18.13 reported in 1987, according to the board's annual report.
One concern expressed by bond industry officials is that the review process could be extended to local agencies in Texas. Neither the board nor Mr. Pollard have advocated that move, though he believes the state must continue to monitor local debt trends as part of its own review process.
For instance, the board expects by next month to release the results of its first-ever survey of local issuers and their debt practices and costs. The study was ordered last year by the Texas Legislature.
"I don't know if oversight should be extended to [local government], but I think scrutiny should be a part of it," he said. "We are so interrelated that we have to understand_what we are all doing."
His final days promise to be busy. The review board is expected today to approve $1 billion of refundings to be sold by yearend. The deals would mark the largest-ever block of refinancings by the state.
Even after Mr. Pollard leaves, the board will have to oversee some of the largest bond programs in the history of the state, including a $1.1 billion prison bond plan and the launching of a $750 million bond bank for local schools.
"I think the challenge for the Bond Review Board will intensify," he said. "Even with the recent issues, Texas is still a low debt state, but the pressure on the board and its role will increase."