Pleasanton Weekly

- January 10, 2014

County agency earns AAA rating on taxes

1st in state with top credit score

by Jeb Bing

Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor's ratings services have both assigned a triple A rating, the highest-possible rating, to the Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC) sales tax.

"This top rating affirms Alameda CTC's high-quality financial management of Measure B, the county's transportation sales tax measure," said Tess Lengyel, deputy director of Planning and Policy.

"This AAA credit rating comes just months after independent auditors and the independent Citizens Watchdog Committee publicly reported Alameda CTC's 11th consecutive year of 100% clean audits and full compliance on the delivery of voter-approved programs and projects funded by Measure B for countywide transportation improvements," she added.

Alameda CTC is now the first transportation agency of its kind in the state with a credit rating of AAA on a sales tax revenue bond issuance from both Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor's rating services. These ratings have the potential to significantly reduce the interest cost over the life of the bonds.

According to Lengyel, the AAA credit rating means:

* Early delivery of transportation projects including the BART Warm Springs Extension, BART Oakland Airport Connector (to open this fall), Route 84 Interchange and I-580 Corridor Improvement projects, including carpool and express lanes.

* Jobs created in construction and supporting industries to complete these projects.

* Expanded transportation choices for fast, safe and reliable travel.

* Reduced costs for project delivery.

"This is a testament to the agency's strong leadership, supported by highly experienced and qualified staff, providing excellent financial management and a stellar track record of delivering projects," said Alameda CTC chairman and County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

"The Alameda County economy is supported by a diverse and sustainable business base, and the investments funded with the bonds will deliver transportation solutions, create jobs and support continued economic growth," he added.

The AAA rating was assigned for the Alameda CTC sales tax revenue bonds of approximately $145.8 million expected to be sold around the second week of February 2014 and to be repaid within eight years with current sales tax revenues to fund voter-approved projects.

"This AAA rating is further proof of the exceptional value Alameda CTC provides to the voters of Alameda County, which is supported by our strict accountability and management practices," said Art Dao, CTC's executive director. "It demonstrates the rating agencies' confidence in our financial strength and our delivery of the Measure B voter-approved Transportation Expenditure Plan."

Over the past 12 years, since voters approved Measure B, the CTC has funded projects on a pay-as-you-go basis. With these bond funds, the agency will complete delivery of some of the largest projects included in the detailed Measure B expenditure plan, delivering them earlier than previously possible, Dao said.

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