January 2019 – The Port of Hueneme, owned by the Oxnard Harbor District, was notified that years of responsible fiscal policy and strategic monetary planning has earned them an ‘A’ Credit Rating from the Standard and Poor (S & P) bond rating system.
“As an independent special district that does not rely on taxes but on our earned revenue, this accomplishment is a testament to the efforts of our District staff and leadership in prioritizing the Port’s fiscal health,” stated Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Herrera. “Being a public agency, we have the responsibilityto be good stewards of our finances, and this third-party certification signals to the public, potential lenders, and our customers that we have our fiscal house in order.”
Kristin Decas, CEO & Port Director commented, “This increase in bond rating comes at a crucial time for the Port, as we are embarking on several infrastructure development projects for which the Port may need to go to the bond market to finance. This upgraded rating will allow the Port better borrowing terms, and ultimately save the public millions of dollars over the life of projects.”
The Port recently announced they had handled over 1.61M tons of cargo this past year, shattering the previous record set in 2015. This continues the upward trend of increasing cargo volumes at the Port of Hueneme since 2012.
“It has been one of the top priorities of our finance and accounting department to get the Port into the top tier of bond ratings since I started at the Port in 2007,” said Andrew Palomares, Deputy Executive Director & CFO/CAO. “With our cargo volumes up 23% since 2012, it has allowed us to make investments in the future fiscal health of the Port with any extra revenue. The Port was able to begin funding its unfunded liabilities by investing $1 million to pre-fund its post-employment benefits liability.”
The S & P report identifies several factors in their decision to increase the Port’s bond rating including: stability in the Port’s top business customers, favorable GDP per capita and strong service area economic fundamentals, and strong management and governance that has established a track record and managing risk.
“It was really a team effort,” stated Austin Yang, Director of Finance for the Port of Hueneme. “One of the District’s strengths on S & P’s rating report was the District has ‘strong management and governance’. This rating upgrade is a clear signal to the markets and investors that the Port of Hueneme is a good place for their investment.”
To read more on the Port’s prefunding of employee health benefits, click here.