Friday, November 6, 2015

City Announces Sustainability Success of Worlds

~ 2015 UCI Road World Championships event goals exceeded ~

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships Sustainability Report to be released next week by Mayor Dwight C. Jones shows that the event achieved or exceeded all of its sustainability goals. A goal was set to divert a minimum of 60% of event waste from going to the landfill, and the efforts undertaken surpassed that goal, achieving a 76% waste diversion rate.

Waste diversion was achieved by composting food wastes; requiring caterers and vendors to use compostable serve ware; operating a robust recycling effort that included cardboard, pallets, and plastic bags, reusing event signage, recovering and donating unused food, collecting cooking grease to turn into bio-fuel, using water filling stations and reusable beer cups in lieu of plastic. 

An additional goal of offsetting 100% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced from event operations was met. Sources of emissions included electricity use in the Greater Richmond Convention Center, fuel use for generators and equipment; propane and cooking fuel for vendors and caterers; and fuel use for official event vehicles, shuttle buses, refuse, recycling and compost haulers. The 100% offset was attained via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provided by the City of Richmond Sustainability Office through its participation in the Dominion Green Power Program. Dominion Green Power RECs come from wind, solar and biomass facilities in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions. 

“I want to recognize Alicia Zatcoff, the City of Richmond Sustainability Manager; Tom Griffin, Executive Director of Virginia Green Travel Alliance, and everyone who worked to make the 2015 UCI Road World Championships a sustainable event,” said Mayor Jones. “Sustainability was a significant factor in the success of the event and in providing athletes and spectators with an overwhelmingly positive experience. This effort also showed how sustainability can enhance tourism and economic development in our community.”

The 2015 UCI Road World Championships was the first Road World Championships ever to receive the official UCI reCycling eco-label. The eco-label recognizes environmentally responsible cycling events that submit an Environmental Management Plan documenting intended actions to address transportation, energy and water conservation, recycling and waste management, accommodations, catering and supplies.

The event was certified as a Virginia Green Travel Event. The Virginia Green Program is Virginia’s self-certifying program to encourage green practices in all aspects of its tourism industry including festivals and sporting events. The program is run through the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association. 

The Worlds is in the process of obtaining the Council for Responsible Sport event certification which is based on the event’s actual performance in key areas of equity, access, community impact, and legacy. 

“We strategically aligned the focus of our sustainability activities for the Worlds in four key areas that were designed to move the city’s broader RVAgreen sustainability initiatives forward: reduce waste, reduce emissions, be healthy and leave a positive legacy,” said Alicia Zatcoff, City of Richmond Sustainability Manager. “As a result, we not only succeeded in our sustainability efforts for the event but we also made progress on big picture initiatives that will benefit our community for many years to come.”

As a result of the sustainability achievements for the Worlds, the City of Richmond and the Virginia Green Travel Alliance are developing a Green Event Toolkit to share lessons learned and provide free resources to enhance the sustainability of future events. 

“The Worlds was an opportunity for the Virginia Green Travel Alliance to help showcase how green an event can actually be when the proper planning takes place and adequate resources are made available,” said Tom Griffin, Executive Director of the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. “The Sustainability accomplishments of the Worlds have set a new standard for events and festivals in the community and the Green Event Toolkit will help organizers meet this new standard.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

All 3 Wall Street Agencies Re-Affirm Richmond Bond Ratings, Citing “Stable” Financial Outlook

All three Wall Street bond rating agencies have re-affirmed their rating of general obligation bonds to be issued by the City of Richmond. The re-affirmations follow six bond rating increases the city has received since Mayor Dwight C. Jones took office in 2009.

“We’re gratified to earn this re-affirmation of Richmond’s fundamental financial strength,” said Mayor Jones. “Wall Street looks only at the facts when they review a city’s finances. It’s clear that investors are confident in Richmond’s progress and our future outlook.”

Here are the key points from each agency:

Moody’s: Aa2 rating, Outlook is Stable
“The Aa2 rating incorporates the city’s prominent role in the regional economy and as the state capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a tax base that is expected to exhibit long-term stability, satisfactory financial operations characterized by conservative budgeting and an elevated but manageable debt position.”
“The stable outlook reflects the expectation of long-term moderate economic growth and a continued conservative fiscal approach that is expected to support the city’s healthy financial position.”
“Richmond’s financial position is expected to continue to remain healthy over the medium term, bolstered by strengthened fund balance policy and implementation of more conservative budgeting assumptions.”
“Richmond’s satisfactory financial position is supported by a history of conservative budgeting, which we expect to continue in the near term.”

Fitch: AA+ rating, Outlook is Stable 
“City management has implemented prudent financial practices and policies largely yielding positive operating results relative to budget.”
“City finances are well-managed, adhering to conservative policy guidelines.”
“The city’s employment base has increased annually between 2011 and 2014, with growth notably outpacing the state and national rates…The city’s historical trend of population declines appears to have reversed, with population increasing 7% since 2010.”

S&P: AA+ rating, Outlook is Stable
“Very strong management, with ‘strong’ financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment methodology.
“Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash of 33.1% of total governmental fund expenditures and 3.7x governmental debt services, and access to external liquidity we consider exceptional.
“Strong budgetary performance, with balanced operating results in the general fund and a slight operating surplus at the total governmental fund level.”
“The stable outlook…reflects the city’s now strong budgetary performance, very strong fiscal flexibility, and liquidity. The city is guided by very strong management that has implemented, strengthened, and continues to implement strong fiscal policies and practices.”

Mayor Jones, city administrators, and the city’s financial advisors hosted the three bond rating agencies in Richmond in mid-October, in preparation for a scheduled issuance of bonds through competitive sale on November 12. The bonds will be used for school projects, general capital improvement projects throughout the city, and costs related to Stone Brewing’s investment in the Fulton neighborhood. The costs of the Stone project will be covered by the firm’s rent payments for the factory under construction in Richmond’s East End.

David Rose, senior vice president and manager of Public Finance for Davenport & Company, LLC, commented, “These ratings re-affirm Mayor Jones’s approach to managing the City’s finances in a prudent and fiscally responsible manner. These strong ratings will make it easier and cheaper for Richmond to borrow money to invest in the City’s future growth and development.”

In addition to the re-affirmations, the agencies also noted the city’s need to continue funding annual required pension contributions, the need to continue addressing Richmond’s poverty rate, and the need to return to timely financial reporting. The agencies also noted that the possibility of using budget reserves could lead to a lowered bond rating in the future.

Click here to view the letters from all three rating agencies.