Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) has been hailed for its financial decision-making recently, and has been awarded a AAA rating by financial services company Standard & Poor's for its $19.43 million in wastewater revenue refunding bonds.
Achieving S&P’s highest ranking will lower Central San's interest rates and save customers more than $8.2 million in interest costs over the next 11 years, according to staff.
These savings will be used to help fund infrastructure improvements identified by Central San’s 20-year master plan. Specific projects immediately on the district’s to-do list involve applying needed upgrades to the regional treatment plant, service and repair pumping stations, and the much-needed replacement of several miles of sewer pipe -- a project that staff continue to execute each year.
The factors helping Central San achieve the optimal rating include maintaining strong operational and financial management practices and reserve policies, according to Central San officials.
"Strong financial management practices include controlling costs and addressing employment related liabilities," Central San spokesman Chris Carpenter wrote in a statement. "In 2018, the Board of Directors established a trust for funding employee retirement obligations beyond the required annual contributions, adding $5.4 million to the trust. Additionally, the agency has also made contributions to further fund other post-employment benefit commitments."
Carpenter added that for approximately five years the agency has maintained an essentially flat operations and maintenance budget.
Achieving a AAA rating was a part of Central San's 2018-20 strategic plan, with other goals including maintaining service affordability, effectively managing the cost of employee benefits and conducting long-range financial planning.
Central San serves Contra Costa County communities from the San Ramon Valley to Concord, Martinez and Orinda, accounting for nearly half a million residents and over 3,000 businesses over 145 square miles.
It operates a household hazardous waste collection facility, provides recycled water for landscape irrigation, and promotes pollution prevention through various educational, informational and inspection programs.