IRVINE, Calif. - August 8, 2019
The Boards of Directors for the San Joaquin Hills (SJHTCA) and Foothill/Eastern (F/ETCA) Transportation Corridor Agencies received a report on the Annual Investment Portfolio Review. The presentation, provided by the Agencies’ investment advisory firm, Chandler Asset Management, indicated the Agencies’ investment portfolio yields and earnings increased during the fiscal year.
The strategies employed enabled the combined $1.44-billion portfolio to earn $23.6 million from interest in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) versus $12.4 million in FY18. Additionally, TCA’s portfolio returns exceeded benchmarks set for the fiscal year ending in June 2019.
The Boards of Directors were presented another example to further strengthen the finances for The Toll Roads of Orange County. $125 million of 2013 term rate bonds were remarketed last month at a highly favorable long-term interest rate of 3.5 percent.
F/ETCA locked in the 3.5 percent long-term fixed rate for the bonds to the final maturity of January 15, 2053, saving the Agency $1.9 million annually. Demand for the $125 million bond offering exceeded $300 million.
The F/ETCA bonds were recently upgraded by Moody’s Investors Service, reflecting an increase in both transactions and revenue as well as the service area’s strong economy. Standard & Poors upgraded the Agency to A- in 2018.
At the request of Director Don Wagner, County Supervisor for the Third District, the Boards of Directors received a status report on countywide efforts to help reduce the risk of wildfires. TCA actively participates in a group known as COAST (County of Orange Area Safety Task Force), as well as the Natural Communities Coalition (NCC). These two organizations bring the resources and planning efforts of multiple agencies and organizations together. In addition to TCA, COAST participants include:
Roadside mitigation to reduce the risk of fire is a primary goal for TCA. The mowing of roadside edges and medians of The Toll Roads occurs annually and will be complete prior to the start of the Santa Ana winds season. Another tactic used to reduce the presence of “flashy fuels” is roadside hardening that includes the placement of gravel adjacent to the edge of the roadway.
Broadly speaking, a wildfire action plan was developed with input from all agencies involved and is used as a guide for the collective efforts to reduce fire risk across the county, including activities performed by Caltrans along The Toll Roads. The plan includes Fire Watch Patrols; the creation of defensible spaces; planting cactus along roadsides that act as fire barrier; hazardous fuels reduction, including the removal of diseased or dead trees; and maintenance of emergency access roads. Another key to reducing the likelihood of major fires throughout the county is increasing situational awareness with the use of ALERTWildfire cameras. The placement and leadership associated with the installation of these cameras was accomplished through the leadership of OCFA, SCE and many other local jurisdictions.
TCA will continue to participate with the multi-agency collaboration and contribute appropriately towards the shared goal of fire risk reduction.
The F/ETCA and SJHTCA Boards approved a contract with Avtex to manage and maintain the customer service telephone system. The contract was authorized for three years, not to exceed $677,252.