Fitch downgrades $537 million Vermont Municipal Bond Bank general resolution bonds to ‘AA’

first_imgSource: Fitch Ratings CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)– 11.17.2010 Fitch Ratings assigns an ‘AA’ rating to the following 2010 Vermont Municipal Bond Bank bonds, issued under the 1988 General Resolution:–$24,280,000 (federally taxable recovery zone economic development bonds) series 5.The bonds are expected to sell via negotiation during the week of Nov. 15, 2010.In addition, Fitch downgrades $536,855,000 in outstanding general resolution bonds to ‘AA’ from ‘AAA’.The Rating Outlook is Stable.RATING RATIONALE:–The rating downgrade is due to the program cash flows failure to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test.–The program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.–The program, which consists of 298 borrowers, is diverse with low single-borrower concentration.–The program’s loan security is strong, with approximately 98% of all loans backed by a general obligation pledge and additional protection from borrower defaults through a state-aid intercept mechanism.KEY RATING DRIVERS:–Fitch will continue to evaluate the bond bank’s ability to balance future leveraging with program resources to maintain borrower default tolerance levels that pass Fitch’s ‘AA’ stress test scenarios.–Credit quality of the bonds is linked to repayment performance on the program’s loan portfolio.SECURITY:Program bonds are secured by borrower loan repayments and debt service reserve funds. A state moral obligation on the reserve fund and a state-aid intercept provision for borrowers provide additional credit enhancement.CREDIT SUMMARY:Established in 1970, The Vermont Municipal Bond Bank (VMBB) is a quasi-state agency. It is administered by a five-member board consisting of four gubernatorial appointees and the state treasurer. The bond bank issues bonds and uses the proceeds to make loans to local government borrowers throughout the state. Virtually all of Vermont’s eligible municipalities use the bond bank as their primary borrowing vehicle because it offers local government borrowers the lowest cost of capital.The loan pool consists of 298 borrowers from cities, towns, counties, school districts and other local governments throughout the state. Approximately 98% of all loans are backed by a general obligation pledge; the remaining are backed by utility pledges from four borrowers. About 51% of the loans are to school districts, which are further backed by an intercept mechanism that includes any state funds payable to borrowers. State aid is reportedly over 90% of school district debt service. The loan portfolio’s largest borrower, Springfield School District, comprises only 5% of the portfolio. The top 10 borrowers account for 33% of the total outstanding loan balance.Fitch analyzed the default tolerance of the VMBB loan pool using a stress test it also applies to state revolving funds and other municipal loan pools. The stress test considers loan quality, single risk concentration, reserve fund size, and debt service requirements. Due to the already tight margins on the program’s stressed cash flows, with the issuance of the 2010 series 5 bonds, the program cash flows fail to pass Fitch’s ‘AAA’ stress test by $4.4 million and $2 million in 2014 and 2027, respectively; this scenario assumes that no scheduled federal debt service subsidies are received. Per its report ‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerations’ dated April 27, 2010, Fitch assesses the ability of the issuer to pay full interest on the BABs, regardless of the subsidy. While Fitch believes there could be offsets to some annual subsidy payments, it believes that VMBB management would take action to address the reasons for the offset and avoid multiple years with no subsidy, including the use of certain optional redemption provisions for its federally subsidized bonds. Even if the federal subsidies were considered in Fitch’s analysis, the stressed cash flows would still miss Fitch’s ‘AAA’ test by $1.3 million in 2014. Nevertheless, the program’s pledged reserves and loan repayments, excluding the federal subsidies, allow the bonds to withstand borrower defaults of up to 20.3% for four years without causing an interruption in bond payments. This is consistent with Fitch’s criteria for assigning an ‘AA’ rating given the loan pool’s borrowers’ credit quality, size and diversification.The debt service reserve fund, which is sized at the least of maximum annual debt service, 125% average annual debt service, or 10% of bond proceeds, is funded with bond proceeds and invested in U.S. treasury and agency securities. Pledged reserves currently total $51.3 million, or 9.5% of bonds outstanding. In addition, the bank currently maintains approximately $10.9 million in unrestricted general fund reserves, which are not pledged to bondholders but may be used if a deficiency occurs. The bonds are also supported by a state moral obligation to replenish the debt service reserve fund if it falls below its minimum specified level. Neither the intercept nor the moral obligation has ever been utilized, because no borrower has defaulted on a loan repayment since the bond bank began operations in 1970.Loan payments are due 15 days before the bond payment dates. Under Vermont’s state intercept provision, if a borrower fails to make its scheduled loan repayment, the bond bank will certify the failure of that payment with the state treasurer. The state treasurer would then pay the defaulted loan amount to the bank’s trustee from amounts appropriated and payable by the state to the defaulted borrower, if available. If sufficient state aid is unavailable, it will be paid from subsequent interceptable state aid payments, with bond bank reserves covering the temporary shortfall. To date, this mechanism has not been tested as there have not been any loan defaults in the history of the program.Additional information is available at is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:–‘Revenue-Supported Rating Criteria’ (Oct. 8, 2010);–‘State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelines’ (April 28, 2008);–‘Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market – Credit Considerations’ (April 27, 2010).For information on Build America Bonds, visit is external).Applicable Criteria and Related Research:State Revolving Fund and Municipal Loan Pool Rating Guidelines…(link is external)Revenue-Supported Rating Criteria…(link is external)Build America Bonds Broaden Municipal Market — Credit Considerations…(link is external)ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY’S PUBLIC WEBSITE WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE ‘CODE OF CONDUCT’ SECTION OF THIS SITE. last_img read more

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Tate Martell lost the starting QB job at Miami and college football fans have jokes

first_img“All three guys showed tremendous improvement and development, which is a credit to their hard work and the work of Dan Enos and his offensive staff. We believe we can win with all three guys, however, we feel like Jarren has the greatest upside due to his passing ability, his instincts and his determination,” Diaz said about the move, via Miami’s official website. “As we move into preparation for the Florida game we will continue the competition to determine who will serve as the backup quarterback.”MORE: SN’s preseason Top 25 rankingsMartell, a five-star recruit coming out of high school in 2017, transferred to Miami this offseason after leaving Ohio State. Justin Fields announced his intention to transfer to Ohio State in January, and Martell entered the transfer portal shortly after.Initially, Martell would have had to sit out a year after transferring. But he filed for a hardship waiver in order to be immediately eligible. He was granted a waiver by the NCAA in March, and became eligible to play in 2019. But obviously with Monday’s news, he may not get a chance to play due to not earning the starting job.Shortly after the news was announced, college football fans reacted on social media. Martell has a strong personality and has developed a bit of a polarizing reputation among fans. One example is when he sent a subtweet to Fields as the QB was pondering a transfer to Ohio— Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) August 12, 2019Clearly that tweet didn’t age well.And when Martell lost the starting job after transferring, fans started in with even more jokes. Tate Martell do you have any comments on the starting QB announcement?— Joshua Reynolds (@joshjreynolds) August 12, 2019As for the actual starting quarterback at Miami, Williams should provide an interesting spark. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who played briefly last season in a 77-0 blowout against Savannah State. “This is something that I’ve always strived for growing up,” Williams said. “It’s been my dream since I was a kid. When I was six years old, I used to sit in front of the TV and watch Michael Vick play. That’s a dream I have always had and I’ve strived for it. Having the opportunity to lead this team is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am going to take full advantage of it.”Miami opens its season Aug. 24 against Florida. Tate Martell will not be the starting quarterback at Miami to start the season, the team announced Monday.Coach Manny Diaz said redshirt freshman Jarren Williams will start for the Hurricanes instead.last_img read more

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Former President Sirleaf’s Legacy in Domino Effect?

first_imgWith the odds against her, Cornelia Kruah-Togba (pictured) is leaning on the quest to provide a different kind of representation for the people of District #13 in Montserrado County, something they have not seen since 2005.By Kula FofanaEarlier this year, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stepped down as Africa’s first democratically elected female leader after a two-term presidency to usher in Liberia’s football icon turned politician George Weah as her successor. The election was marred by controversies and allegations of malpractices by contending parties, which the Supreme Court of Liberia found non-egregious. In 2006, Madam Sirleaf took over a country recovering from over a decade of civil war that racked a death toll of over 250,000, a nearly empty fiscal reserve, poor infrastructure, lack of basic services, non-existent electricity, exuberant young population, some of who were former combatants, still in possession of firearms and many other challenges. Little did she know her country would later come to deal with Ebola and over 4,000 of her compatriots, the highest count in the region of affected countries, would pay a hefty price with their lives. She would later work to restore electricity, connect counties through roads, rebuild bridges, restore pipe bone water in some communities, create a civil service that attracts some of Liberia’s best, restructured the police and army and bring dignity to the security sector and improve the education and health sectors. While she worked hard to restore, resuscitate, rebuild, and build many sectors, she also upheld the fight for women’s political and economic empowerment and has inspired many women across Liberia and beyond. Initiatives such as the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund (SMWF, now the Sustainable Market Women’s Fund), the Economic Empowerment Program for Adolescent Girls & Young Women, the Adolescent Girls Division of the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection and many more, were all anchored during her leadership. Despite many visible achievements that I am unable to cover here, many pundits have questioned Madam Sirleaf’s legacy, including on the gender front, citing her failure to appoint more women at higher levels of ministerial positions even though many women were appointed as deputy and assistant ministers, deputies of public corporations and associate justices of the Supreme Court. Although women accounted for a smaller number of her kitchen cabinet in the executive branch, her bravery and audacity to challenge barriers of women’s political participation and contest the country’s highest public office, winning twice, not only presents a break from the “old boys club” but a domino effect that has inspired many women to step on the stage when the opportunity presents itself. While it may appear that fewer women are getting elected, this phenomenon can be explained. In 2005, Liberia had a special election with the suspension of the constitution. New electoral rules were adopted by the National Elections Commission. One of such rules was a mandate to political parties to ensure a minimum of 30% representation on their political party list to be presented. Parties obliged and, as a result, the legislature welcomed a new caucus of women constituting 14% of its membership. In 2011 and 2017, the elections were constitutional and the 30% clause was not enforceable. Then, women elected constituted 10.2% and 12.3% of legislative seats, respectively. However, in 2017, out of 785 registered candidates, 123 were women. This accounts for the highest in recent election history. This manifests that women are beating the odds and that the legacy of Madam Sirleaf is far from complete.One woman who is taking a note or two from Madam Sirleaf’s manuscript is Cornelia Kruah Togba. Having completed coursework for Master of Arts degree in International Politics & Economics in the United Kingdom, she saw the need to step forward and contest for the representative seat in her district that was made vacant by the election to the Senate of her predecessor.With the odds against her, she is leaning on the quest to provide a different kind of representation for the people of District #13 in Montserrado County, something they have not seen since 2005. Being the youngest in the race with limited financial and logistical resources against her major contender who enjoys not only presidential endorsement from the ruling party, but state logistics and personnel at his disposal, she faces an uphill battle. While there are structural barriers prohibiting women’s political participation, resources and attaining political party endorsements remain a challenge. District #13 is one of the highly populated districts with a majority of young people. Challenges of unemployment, infrastructure, health care, women’s empowerment, community voices, and ownership are a major concern. These are issues high on Madam Kruah-Togba’s agenda.  Just in the course of her campaign, with meager resources, she embarked on unprecedented self-help initiatives to uplift her district. Initiatives such as paving feeder roads that were previously impassable, providing street lights in communities that were in darkness, among many others. As the most qualified candidate in the race, who has a well-developed legislative agenda, Madam Togba hopes to bring the needed change her district in particular and Liberia in general desire. With her years of service in the government of Liberia at the Ministries of State, Public Works and, most recently Education, she comes with an understanding of government’s bureaucracy and the work it requires to get things done. She was also a student leader at the Stella Maris Polytechnic, working to ensure cordiality with the administration and the student body. Additionally, an organization she recently established, the Young Women Empowerment Network to contribute to Liberia’s human development sector is becoming a leading voice for women in public service. These are skills important in dealing with a diverse group of people to negotiate on behalf of the people of her constituency.  As the candidate of choice for the alliance of three key opposition parties including Unity Party, Liberty Party, and the Alternative National Congress, she is better placed to build a bipartisan approach to passing key bills for the country. I have known Madam Kruah-Togba for little over 5 years now. We have shared friendship, professional relationship and sisterhood. Most importantly, both our love and passion for Liberia are invincible. More than anything else, I believe she will better serve the people of District 13. She will deliver her promises and sure protect the interest of the people. It is my hope that she will join forces with other members of the Women Legislative Caucus to pick up the pace on the rape bill that is near amendment, the Domestic Violence Act, the political representation bill and many others. Cornelia is a member of the new generation of Liberia’s political actors and public servants who are poised, with every fiber in their being, to rewrite the country’s story that is often told pejoratively. Electing a young woman like herself, who has lived and understands the challenges of her district, will not only be beneficial to the people of her district, it will serve as an encouragement for young people who constitute the majority of the population and young women to step up and ensure an impactful domino effect. The Author:Kula Fofana is a student of Violence Conflict & Development at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She formerly served the Government of Liberia as Assistant Minister for Youth Development. Her interests include Transitional Justice, Public Service, Local Voices, Gender, governance, intersectionality etc . She can be contacted Twitter: @kulafofanaShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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