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Press Release

Helping Local Governments Adjust to COVID-related Revenue Loss: S&P Global Ratings Holds Virtual Office Hours in Partnership with WaterNow Alliance and The Atlas

15 local governments selected to participate in virtual Q&A event
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 21, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- WaterNow Alliance and The Atlas announced today that it would host S&P Global Ratings for virtual office hours to answer questions from 15 local governments across the country about COVID-19's impacts on the municipal bond market.
Recent volatility in the municipal bond markets caused by the coronavirus crisis has become an enormous challenge for cities, towns and water resource utilities and agencies that rely on municipal bonds for infrastructure financing.
With many water utilities around the country suspending water shut-offs, and some customers unable to pay their water bills, there is a fear that local agencies will see a decrease or deferral in revenues that could adversely affect their ability to cover their debt obligations. This makes these usually rock solid investments look riskier.
However, while market fluctuations will continue and S&P's in-house economists say we are now in a recession, the effects of the pandemic and recession will vary depending on utility characteristics. Utilities with strong creditworthiness and proactive management will likely continue to have access to the muni bond market.
Fielding questions from S&P Global Ratings is Erin Boeke Burke (Associate Director, Municipal and Cooperative Utilities, S&P Global Ratings). Participating local governments include large municipalities like the City of Atlanta and the City of Philadelphia as well as smaller municipalities and water utilities, including the City of Garland (TX), Town of Amherst (MA) and Soquel Creek Water District (CA). The virtual event will take place May 27-28. It will be archived, keyword-tagged and searchable by local government officials & staff, ensuring that hundreds more local governments benefit from the candid discussion far into the future.
"I'm thrilled to have this unique opportunity to talk -- virtually -- with municipalities and utilities across the country." said Erin Boeke Burke, Associate Director, Municipal and Cooperative Utilities, S&P Global Ratings. "S&P Global Ratings rates credit fundamentals, distinguishing between credit risk and headline risk. Our rating options are one of many tools available when making informed decisions, especially in the current environment."
"This is the moment to invest utility capital in water innovation, particularly onsite and decentralized water strategies," said Cynthia Koehler, Executive Director of WaterNow Alliance. "From green stormwater infrastructure to water use efficiency measures to lead service line replacements -- these water infrastructure strategies do triple duty addressing key infrastructure needs, providing essential community benefits and critically, in this challenging economic moment, generating local jobs and stimulus. Capital markets are hungry for innovation and investors are willing and able to support water utilities taking this moment to embrace innovation that works for their communities."
"Local governments are currently undergoing a seismic shift due to the coronavirus crisis. While much remains uncertain, one trend is very clear: learning & sharing are moving online," said Ellory Monks, co-founder of The Atlas. "We are proud to expand the free online resources available to local governments with these new virtual office hours, and we are excited to welcome S&P Global Ratings as our first guest. Social distancing cannot be allowed to stand in the way of local government learning -- the work of local government is far too essential and the stakes are far too high."
About WaterNow Alliance
WaterNow Alliance is a national network of local water utility decision makers supporting innovative, environmentally sustainable, climate resilient and affordable water strategies.
About The Atlas
The Atlas is a free online community for local government officials & staff to browse city case studies, follow trending local government topics and post questions to colleagues. Since its launch in April 2019, The Atlas has grown from 0 to 2K+ monthly active city members. Its database includes more than 500 member-generated city case studies that cover topics as diverse as scooters, homelessness and green infrastructure. It is a recent graduate of 500 Startups, one of San Francisco's premier tech accelerators.
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