Larry Combs

Another View: Bond agency helps local, job-creating projects

Published: Sunday, Mar. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2E

California Statewide Communities Development Authority has been successful for more than 25 years providing more than 500 city, county and special district members access to low-cost, tax-exempt bond financing for job-producing projects. ("Public money flows to private firms via 'rogue' authorities": Viewpoints, March 8.) The funds for projects provide a tangible public benefit, contribute to social and economic growth, and improve the overall quality of life in local communities throughout California.

The development authority has facilitated nearly $50 billion in bonds for projects such as affordable housing, hospital and medical facilities, community youth centers, waste treatment facilities, independent schools and manufacturing facilities.

Locally, the development authority has helped secure financing for projects that address a local need and create hundreds of jobs. For example, in 2010 the California Statewide Communities Development Authority helped facilitate more than $4 million in funding needed to rehabilitate a 63-unit multifamily housing complex in Elk Grove. All of the units are set aside for low-income, affordable housing. In 2008, West Sacramento turned to the authority to secure funding to acquire and rehabilitate a housing complex that resulted in 22 units of affordable housing for low- and very low-income residents.

The development authority is committed to full accountability and transparency.

All projects funded using the development authority must be approved by the local city council or county board of supervisors via a public vote. Local elected officials are responsible for evaluating whether a project is needed, whether it has support in the community and whether the financing is sound, and they must answer to their constituents.

The development authority is transparent about fees received. It reports fees paid to all private contractors to the California State Controller's Office on an annual basis. That same information is also available on the California Statewide Communities Development Authority website.

In August, the California Bureau of State Audits confirmed the development authority's operating practices: "With existing scrutiny and controls in place, it is not particularly surprising that we found that (CSCDA) has issued tax-exempt conduit revenue bonds appropriately."

In October 2012, the Fair Political Practices Commission held that the development authority's operating practices are consistent with the Political Reform Act.

The development authority has been successful because its pricing is competitive and it provides quality services in a timely manner. But it is just one player in a marketplace in which many issuers of tax-exempt bonds compete, including other entities similar to CSCDA as well as bonding authorities overseen by the state treasurer's office.

More players in the market help foster better performance, better services and lower prices among all competitors.

Larry Combs is chairman of California Statewide Communities Development Authority.

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