03.24.2021 | News Release
SANDAG successfully refinanced its 2014 Series A bonds at lower interest rates, providing more than $22 million in savings to the region and taxpayers. At the same time, new bonds were issued to support projects in the TransNet Major Corridors program.
The agency took advantage of low taxable interest rates to reduce debt service and featured an offer to existing bondholders to tender bonds and retain tax-exempt status. SANDAG, serving as the San Diego County Regional Transportation Commission, priced the taxable 2021 Series A Bonds with a total principal amount of $149.84 million at an all-in rate of 2.21% and the tax-exempt 2021 Series B Bonds with a total principal amount of $116.15 million at an all-in rate of 2.71%, resulting in a total of $130.4 million in project funds.
The refinancing saves money for the region over the next 18 years by paying off 2014 Series A bonds with the lower-cost Series 2021 bonds, reducing future debt service payments by approximately $23.7 million (or $22 million on a present value basis). Principal and interest on the 2021 Series A and B Bonds will be repaid from sales tax revenues collected under TransNet, the half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by San Diego County voters.
SANDAG continues to maintain strong credit ratings, which were affirmed in the process of issuing the Series 2021 A bonds: AAA from Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings (Fitch), representing the highest possible rating for both rating agencies. The Series 2021 B bonds were issued under the subordinate indenture and rated AA from both S&P and Fitch.
Reflecting San Diego’s diverse and expanding economy which features a growing population and strong wealth levels, sales tax revenues generated by TransNet grew in FY 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the bonds were sold earlier this month with Wells Fargo Securities and Bank of America Securities acting as co-lead underwriters, investor interest was strong. More than 25 investors participated in the 2021 Series A Bonds and over 30 investors participated in the 2021 Series B Bonds including a wide range of asset managers, mutual funds, bank portfolios, and other investors, ultimately leading to a diverse investor base and enabling SANDAG and its financing team to reduce interest rates from initial expected levels at the beginning of marketing.
Since the TransNet program’s inception, annual sales tax revenues have increased from $95.7 million in FY 1989 to $305.8 million in FY 2020. The original TransNet Program, which was adopted by county voters in 1987 and funded major transportation projects, expired in 2008.
In 2004, San Diego County voters approved a TransNet extension which began in 2008 and is set to continue for 40 years until 2048. The Ordinance and Expenditure Plan for the TransNet Extension includes funding for additional major highway, transit, and local street and road projects, as well as environmental mitigation, smart growth incentives, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and related programs.
For media inquiries, please contact Stacy Garcia at 619.699.1950 or PIO@sandag.org