Debt Capacity

Each year, the City completes a debt capacity assessment, as part of the budget process, to ensure that proposed debt is affordable and contributes to the financial strength of the City. The debt capacity is the upper limit on the dollar amount of capital improvements that the City can afford to fund from debt. The City uses an objective analytical approach to quantify the impact of new general-purpose debt, both General Obligation Bonds and Certificates of Obligation. This process shall compare City accepted standards of affordability to the current values for the City. These standards may include debt per capita, debt as a percent of taxable value, taxable value per capita, and overall tax rate. The process shall also examine the direct costs and benefits of the proposed expenditures.

The analysis will evaluate the capacity within the General Fund to take on the operating expenditures associated with the completion of the proposed capital improvements. When a project will have a significant impact on the operating budget, the M&O tax rate could be pushed over the voter-approval tax rate, which is 3.5% over the no-new-revenue tax rate. This would cause the tax rate to need further approval by voters once the project is completed and placed into service. If additional capacity within the 3.5% voter-approval rate is available, this capacity can be reserved for future implementation of voter approved bond projects to support the O&M impacts of the projects.

The City shall complete an assessment of debt capacity and the tax impact of proposed bond funded projects as part of the GO bond planning process. The debt capacity is the upper limit on the dollar amount of capital improvements that the City can afford to fund from debt within the proposed debt service tax rate.

Debt capacity calculations for long-term planning shall assume market rates for the average annual interest costs at the time the capacity is determined. The analysis shall assume a debt structure that meets the policy requirement to pay 50% of principal within the first 10 years of issuance. The analysis shall not assume future refunding of any outstanding bonds and shall consider both debt service requirements on current and proposed debt.

For property tax supported debt, current debt capacity shall be determined by an amount of annual debt service that the City can fund within a flat debt service tax rate with no growth in assessed valuation. The affordability shall include the anticipated impact to the tax rate necessary to support the proposed debt. This tax rate impact should be stated as a maximum impact with no assumed future changes to residential exemptions or growth from revaluation or new taxable value. The calculation shall include the estimated maximum annual increase in the amount of taxes that would be imposed on a residence homestead with an appraised value of $100,000 to repay the debt obligations, if approved, based on the assumptions by the City. (Government Code Sec. 1251.052)

For revenue debt, maximum capacity shall be determined by the amount of annual debt service that the City can absorb within a proposed rate structure that has been reviewed with City Council and which can support the proposed debt within the additional bonds test as defined in the revenue bond covenants. The City shall not exceed debt capacity as defined through bond covenants or fall below bond coverage ratios for additional revenue bonds.