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Transportation Corridor Agencies Amend Debt Management Policies to Increase Transparency, Affirm Fiscal Health

Action by Boards of Directors memorializes longstanding practices that have resulted in continual credit rating upgrades and allowed Agencies to weather financial storms.

IRVINE, Calif. - July 30, 2020

The Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) Boards of Directors have approved amended Debt Management Policies that memorialize longstanding practices while enhancing transparency and bolstering the Agencies’ creditworthiness.

The Board of the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA), which operates the 73 Toll Road, and the Board of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA), which operates the 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads, in December 2019 approved Debt Management Policies in accordance with California Government Code Section 8855.

At the time, the SJHTCA and F/ETCA Boards expressed the desire to provide additional detail in order to guide future Boards, offer enhanced transparency to the public and illustrate the Agencies’ sound fiscal position. A debt management policy ensures that debt is issued and managed prudently, including consideration of accelerated repayment schedules.

TCA staff utilized best practice guidelines issued by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and checklists and guidelines issued by the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC) to update the policies.

“We want to provide a roadmap of best practices for future Boards and pass on strategies that have been successful so the Agencies can flourish well into the future,” said Trish Kelley, Mayor Pro Tem of Mission Viejo and SJHTCA Chairwoman. “Prior to The Toll Roads, California’s local agencies relied on state and federal funds to build highway facilities. When those funds became scarce, The Toll Roads were financed through the sale of toll revenue bonds that are repaid solely with the tolls and development impact fees collected.”

“The approval of the amended Debt Management Policies illustrate our commitment to go above and beyond what is required to offer complete transparency about our strong fiscal management, which has been acknowledged by credit rating agencies time and again,” said Christina Shea, Mayor of Irvine and F/ETCA Chairwoman. “The decisions made by the elected representatives on our Boards continue to provide value to our 18 member cities and the three county supervisorial districts our roads encompass.”

“Robust debt management policies help increase credit ratings and also bolster credibility and transparency with the public that we serve,” said SJHTCA Vice Chair and Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill, who serves on the Agencies’ Joint Finance and Investment Committee.

In 2013 and 2014, TCA's bond debt was refinanced to take advantage of historically low interest rates and establish debt structures that align with The Toll Roads’ historical revenue growth. Since the refinancings, transactions and revenue have exceeded projections and reserves have grown, providing stability to weather economic downturns and support the funding of TCA’s Capital Improvement Program. All of TCA’s bonds have investment grade ratings from the three major credit rating agencies (Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Group).

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The Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) are two joint powers authorities formed by the California legislature in 1986 to plan, finance, construct and operate Orange County’s public toll road system comprised of the 73, 133, 241 and 261 Toll Roads. TCA continues to meet the region’s growing need for congestion-free transportation alternatives.