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November 28, 2017 > East Bay Regional Park District issues first ever Green Bonds

East Bay Regional Park District issues first ever Green Bonds

Submitted By Dave MasonÊ

On Tuesday, Nov. 7 the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors approved its first ever issuance of ÒGreen BondsÓ ever as part of its 2008 Measure WW regional park and open space bond financing.
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In total, the Board of Directors approved issuance of $124.6 million of general obligation bonds, including $50 million dollars in Green Bonds, for both new bonds and refunding of past bonds. The bonds were issued and sold on Nov. 15.
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ÒThe Park District is happy to be a trailblazer on Green Bonds,Ó said Board Director and Board Finance Committee Chair Ayn Wieskamp. ÒCertified Green Bonds allow investors to put their money toward improving the environment while also benefitting from the tax advantages and stability of municipal bonds.Ó
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ÒGreen Bonds are the new standard in environmentally friendly investing,Ó added Director Wieskamp.
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ÒGreen BondsÓ are bonds that are dedicated to projects that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate for climate changes, or provide other environmental benefits. The bonds received the highest-level grade of GB1 (Excellent) ÒGreen BondsÓ by MoodyÕs Investment Services, a nationally recognized investment rating service. This was the first ever ÒGreen BondÓ rating by MoodyÕs for a park district bond issuance. It was the fourth ever for a municipality in the United States.
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ÒGreen Bonds are an emerging financial market,Ó said Deputy General Manager Ana M. Alvarez. ÒThe Park District is honored to be taking a leadership role in promoting Certified Green Bonds as a fiscally sound investment option, especially for environmentally minded investors.Ó
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The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park district in the nation with over 25 million visitors per year to its 73 parks on 121,000 acres of regional parkland. The Park District manages 55 miles of bay shoreline.
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ÒThe Park District has a number of Green Bond type projects in the planning process that will improve the environment and address the impacts of climate change,Ó said Alvarez ÒEast Bay public parklands are feeling the impacts of a changing climate through erosion, fires, and extreme weather events.Ó

The BoardÕs action authorizing issuance of $50 million of ÒGreen BondsÓ includes $30 million of a new Measure WW bonds and refinancing of $20 million of past Measure WW bonds.
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In 2008, 72% of voters of Alameda and Contra Costa counties approved Measure WW, which authorized the Park District to issue up to $500 million in general obligation bonds to improve local and regional parks, preserve open space, and restore urban creeks and wildlife habitat. To date, $240 million has been issued, including the new $80 million issuance.
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Measure WW Bond Refinancing:
On Nov. 7 the Board of Directors also authorized the advance refunding (refinancing) of $44.5 million of past Measure WW bonds. This allows the district to refinance the existing bonds at lower interest rates, thereby saving local taxpayers money. The refinancing will save taxpayers $7.1 million dollars Ð even better than initial estimates.
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Measure WW Bonds Received Aaa and AAA Rating:
The issuance of Measure WW bonds authorized on Nov. 7, including ÒCertified Green BondsÓ and bond refinancing, received a Aaa rating from MoodyÕs Investor Services and AAA by Standard & Poor's Financial Services Ð the highest possible ratings by both.
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The Aaa and AAA bond ratings allow the Park DistrictÕs bonds to be issued at much lower interest rates, saving taxpayers money.
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As part of their financial assessment, MoodyÕs Investment Services and Standard & Poor's Financial Services took a hard very hard look at the Park DistrictÕs finances and found the Park District to have strong financial practices and policies.

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