CHICAGO – Milwaukee takes competitive bids Tuesday on $180 million of school cash flow notes, its first deal after establishing a new web portal to improve investor access to its financial data and bond offerings.
“The purpose of the Bondlink pages is to assist investors in quickly finding relevant financial information on the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Public Schools,” said Richard Li, public debt specialist in Comptroller Martin Matson’s office, which manages city and school borrowing.
“We hope the improved transparency will assist investors in making more timely and favorable investment decisions,” Li said.
The websites list financial team members, the latest financial reports on the city and district, ratings information, offering documents, and links to information on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s EMMA website. The Bondlink pages are available at www.milwaukeebonds.com and www.mpsbonds.com.
The notes will smooth out the Milwaukee Public Schools’ cash flow needs as it awaits the receipt of state aid. The notes mature on Sept. 27, 2018. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and Hurtado Zimmerman SC are bond counsel. PFM Financial Advisors LLC is advising the comptroller’s office.
Ahead of the sale, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings assigned top short-term ratings to the revenue anticipation notes.
Note principal and interest repayment is secured by an irrevocable pledge of school state aid payments and all school operations fund revenues for the 2017-18 fiscal year with interest repayment also secured by a pledge of surplus revenues of the debt service fund of the city. Fitch assigns an issuer default rating of A-plus with a stable outlook to MPS.
MPS effectively functions as a city department under state statutes. The city issues debt on behalf of the district and also provides liquidity directly, when needed, for school operations. “While the notes are not general obligations of the city, Fitch believes the city's management of the MPS’ funds and provision of liquidity for MPS create a relationship that supports the highest short-term rating on the notes,” Fitch said in its review.
The city is rated AA by Fitch which “reflects the city's stable financial performance over time, highest gap-closing capacity, and moderate long-term liabilities level” and a “a demonstrated capacity to cut spending, sufficient financial cushion and low expected revenue volatility offset Fitch's expectation for limited revenue growth.”
Katten Muchin Rosenman and Hurtado Zimmerman were recently awarded a new three-year contract to serve as bond counsel after a request for proposals process. The city’s financial advisory contract expires next year and the city intends to soon launch a RFP, Li said.
The comptroller’s also welcomed a new member to its finance team, Joshua Benson, who took over the position of special assistant to the comptroller. Benson previously worked at PFM in its Milwaukee office.