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Environmental Loans Definitions

For exact definitions, refer to the appropriate administrative code or statute.

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Disclaimer: This information is intended solely as guidance, and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements are found in statute or administrative rule. This guidance does not establish or affect legal rights or obligations, and is not finally determinative of any of the issues addressed. This guidance cannot be relied upon and does not create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation with the State of Wisconsin or the Department of Natural Resources. Any regulatory decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts.

A

Accrued interest
Refers to interest that has accumulated but has not yet been paid. In the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF), interest accrues on loan monies from the date of the loan disbursement. Accrued interest is calculated at the end of a fiscal year for preparation of financial statements and to the call date when a debt is being refinanced.
Ad valorem tax
(in Latin: to the value added) - Refers to property taxes levied by local governments. General obligation debts are secured by an ad valorem tax.
Amendment
A formal, written change to an existing financial assistance agreement typically to approve a change in the scope of a project or to provide additional funds for increased project costs. (see amendments [PDF])
Arbitrage
Earning more interest on an investment than the interest cost on the debt proceeds used to make that investment. The Internal Revenue Code regulates the amount and conditions under which arbitrage on the investment of bond proceeds is permissible and the 1986 Tax Reform Act requires, with a few exceptions, that arbitrage earnings must be rebated to the federal government.
Assessed valuation
The value of property against which an ad valorem tax is levied, usually a percentage of "true" or "market" value. In Wisconsin, the Department of Revenue annually publishes an "Equalized Value" report that establishes the real estate value in each municipality for debt purposes. Under the Wisconsin Constitution, municipalities may not have general obligation debts outstanding that exceed 5 percent of their equalized value.

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B

Best Management Practice (BMP)
Best management practices means structural or non-structural measures, practices, techniques or devices employed to avoid or minimize soil, sediment or pollutants carried in runoff to waters of the state. (see Storm Water Technical Standards, Models and BMPs, see also storm water projects)
Attention: Changes made to the state statutes in the 2015-2017 biennial budget process shortened the term "structural urban best management practice" to "best management practices" (to allow flexibility in nonpoint issues).
Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL)
The organization comprised of the secretary of state, state treasurer, and the attorney general that operates under the authority of ch. 24, Wis. Stats. The Small Loans Program (SLP) is based on loans made by the BCPL to local governments. (see Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) [exit DNR])
Bond
The written evidence of a debt. Chs. 66 and 67, Wis. Stats. [exit DNR] contain the procedures and limitations for municipalities issuing general obligation bonds, revenue bonds and special assessment bonds.
Bond Anticipation Note (BAN)
A note issued in anticipation of later issuance of bonds. BANs are usually payable from the proceeds of the sale of the bonds. For example, sewerage system revenue bond anticipation notes are commonly issued by municipalities to temporarily fund a project in anticipation of a later bond sale to the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP).
Bond counsel
An attorney specializing in the issuance of debt who prepares or obtains the documents necessary for a debt to be issued and sold. Bond counsel typically have special knowledge in state and federal laws governing debt issues including regulations issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the Securities Exchange Commission.
A Bond Counsel experienced in Wisconsin municipal debt issuance must be hired to prepare the bond documents and the bond transcript for the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) loan. Evidence of qualifications, experience, and liability insurance coverage may be required by the Environmental Loans Program to demonstrate the acceptability of the counsel.
Bond transcript
The collection of documents that are prepared for a debt issue. The bond transcript is typically prepared by the Bond Counsel and copies are distributed to the participants in the transaction. The documents included would typically include the municipal debt sale resolution, closing certificate, open meeting compliance certificate, no-arbitrage certificate, IRS tax form, legal opinion, loan agreement, debt specimen, affidavit of publication of 893.77 Notice, parity bond compliance certificate and other supporting documents.
Bond year
Is the 12-month period that ends on the annual principal payment date for a specific bond issue. A bond that has principal payments on Jun. 1 has a Bond Year (12 months) that ends on Jun. 1.

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C

Call
The actions taken to pay, all or part of the bond/note prior to the stated maturity date. For example, a Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) may require that a Notice (a Call Notice) be sent out at least 30 days prior to the date on which the note will be called in early.
Callable
Subject to payment of the principal amount (and accrued interest) prior to the stated maturity date, with or without payment of a call premium. For example, a Bond may be callable on or after June 1, 20XX subject to thirty (30) days prior written notice to the holders of the bond.
Capitalized interest
Is using loan proceeds to make interest payments on the loan during a specified period such as during project construction. Capitalizing interest increases the loan balance and thereby increases future loan payments necessary to repay the loan. The Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) only allows interest to be capitalized on a loan when the municipality will not have a user charge revenue stream to make loan payments until after a sewer or water system is fully constructed. (see Unsewered Projects, see also financing for unsewered projects [PDF])
Closeout
Each Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan recipient is required to complete closeout and/or amendment requirements in order to receive final disbursement of its EIF loan. (see Closeouts)
Closeout date
When the department determines the project closeout requirements are satisfied and final costs are reconciled between the municipality and the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF), the Department of Administration (DOA) can wire final disbursement. No additional disbursements for the project are made after the project closeout date.

Hint: We close out projects, so "project closeout." We close loans, so "loan closing."

Closing date
The closing date is the day on which a new issuance of bonds is delivered to the purchaser upon payment of the purchase price and the satisfaction of all conditions specified in the agreement of the bond purchase. For Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) and Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) loans, the "closing date" is the day on which the bonds issued by a municipality are delivered to the state and the first disbursement of the bond/loan proceeds is made.
What happens at the municipal meeting that would trigger the setting of the interest rate? Similar to selling bonds in the public markets, the "municipal meeting date" is equated to the "bond pricing date" or "sale date" of the municipal obligations that are being issued by the municipalities within the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF). The "bond pricing date" or "sale date" is the date that locks in an interest rate and the date that the municipality agrees to sell bonds to the EIF. The loan closing date is the same as the bond closing date in the public markets and is the date that the municipality actually starts to receive funds for their Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) loan.

Hint: We close loans, so "loan closing." We close out projects, so "project closeout."

Current expenses
The reasonable and necessary costs of operating, maintaining, administering and repairing the System (sewer or water), including salaries, wages, costs of materials and supplies, insurance and audits, but shall exclude depreciation, debt service, tax equivalents and capital expenditures. This definition is typically used in establishing the Debt Coverage requirement. (See also Net Revenues)

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D

Debt coverage
(a term usually connected with revenue bonds) - Refers to the margin of safety for payment of debt services. Debt Coverage is typically calculated by dividing Net Revenues of the sewer or water utility by the maximum annual revenue bond debt service payable by that utility which results in a number such as 1.25 or 125% debt coverage. The Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) requires debt coverage of the greater of i) 110 percent, or ii) the highest coverage requirements on any revenue obligations payable from the revenues, of the sewerage system or water system. (See also Net Revenues)
Debt service
The amount of principal and interest that is due on a particular bond/note, often expressed in the context of a timeframe (such as "annual debt service").
Debt service fund
Debt service fund (also known as special redemption fund) is the municipal fund that is established to pay debt service on general obligation debts issued under ch. 67, Wis. Stats., and revenue bonds issued under ch. 66, Wis Stats. The purpose of the debt service fund is to identify and segregate the money that is periodically set aside for the principal and interest payments on various debts.
Under the Wisconsin Statutes, the debt service fund is a separate fund pledged solely for paying the principal of and interest on the applicable debt outstanding. For additional fund information pertaining to revenue bonds see Wis. Stats. 66.0621(4)(c)&(d)&(e)&(f). For additional fund information pertaining to general obligation debts see Wis. Stats. 67.10(3) and 67.11(3). Legal investments for fund monies is discussed in Wis. Stats. 66.0603(1m).
Default
Failure to pay debt service when due, or failure to comply with other covenants in the financing documents.
Disbursement
The act of drawing funding awarded via the financial assistance agreement (FAA) based on invoices submitted by the municipality to the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF). For a municipality to receive a disbursement from the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP), it must complete a Request for Disbursement (Form 8700-215). (see Request for Disbursement)

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E


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F

Facilities plans
Plans and studies which directly relate to the construction of a wastewater project or water project. The basic purpose of a facility planning study is to assess the condition of a system, establish a need for improvement, evaluate options to address system needs, and to identify the cost-effective alternative. A recommended plan provides information on the cost-effective alternative, which includes monetary costs, environmental assessments, social considerations, and other non-monetary factors.
Wastewater facility planning studies are required by ch. NR 110, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR] for all "reviewable projects" involving new or modified sewerage systems owned by municipal or other non-industrial entities.
For drinking water projects, an engineering report is equivalent to a facilities plan. Engineering report requirements are contained in ch. NR 811, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR] and ch. NR 108, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].
Final completion
Project construction is complete, DNR certified that the project is constructed according to DNR approved plans and specifications, and the facilities are operating according to design.
Financial advisor
A consultant to an issuer of municipal securities who provides the issuer with advice with respect to the timing, terms, structure, or other similar matters concerning a new issue of securities. The Financial Advisor may prepare a Finance Plan that contains such things as a chronology of financing events, cashflow projection, debt coverage calculation, etc.
Fiscal Year (FY)
For State government this means the 12-month period ending Jun. 30. For local governments this means the 12-month period ending Dec. 31. Indian Tribes may select a fiscal year that is different than Dec. 31. For the Federal government this means the 12-month period ending Sept. 30.

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G

General obligation bond (GO bond)
A bond secured by the pledge of the issuer's full faith and credit. For local government GO debt issues, at the time that the GO bonds are issued, the municipality puts in place a property tax levy that is sufficient to pay the principal and interest payments over the life of the GO debt being issued. (see funds required for revenue bonds and general obligation bonds/notes)
General obligation debt limit
The statutory or constitutional limit on the principal amount of debt that an issuer may incur (or that it may have outstanding at any one time). In the State of Wisconsin, municipalities can only have outstanding general obligation debt up to 5% of the municipality's equalized value, which is established annually by the Department of Revenue.
Gross earnings
The gross earnings of the system (water or sewer), including all revenues, income and earnings of the system derived from user charges imposed by the municipality, all payments to the municipality under any agreements between the municipality and any contract users of the system, and any other monies received from any source by the system including all rentals and fees. This term is typically used in establishing the Debt Coverage requirement. (See also Net Revenues)

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H

Hardship financial assistance
(subprogram of the Clean Water Fund Program) - Financial assistance, as authorized under s. 281.58(13), Wis. Stats., available to municipalities that meet the financial hardship criteria under ch. NR 162.42, Wis. Adm. Code. Such assistance may take the form of additional interest rate reductions, grant or a combination of both. (see Hardship)

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I

Intent to Apply (ITA)
Intent to Apply - Each municipality that plans to apply for financial assistance for their water infrastructure project, from either the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP), is required to complete and submit online a notice of Intent to Apply (ITA) & Priority Evaluation and Ranking Formula (PERF) by October 31. This ITA/PERF is the first step for a municipality to be eligible to submit a financial assistance application for the next state fiscal year (SFY) funding cycle. (see Notice of Intent to Apply [PDF])
Issuance costs
The costs associated with issuing a debt. Such costs may include: bond counsel fee, financial advisor fee, underwriter's discount, bond rating fee, bond insurance, official statement printing cost, trustee fee, etc.

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J

Junior bond
A revenue bond issued, or to be issued, with a claim on the sewer utility revenues or water utility revenues that is junior and subordinate to the claim of one or more other revenue bonds. (See also Parity Bond and Senior Bond)

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L

Lagoon
A pond in which algae, sunlight, and oxygen interact to restore water to a quality that is often equal to the effluent from the secondary treatment stage. Lagoons are widely used by small communities to provide wastewater treatment.

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N

Needs categories
Categories of projects developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are potentially eligible for EPA financial assistance.
Needs list
A survey-based (needs survey) compilation of cost estimates for constructing publicly owned wastewater or water treatment facilities or best management practices potentially eligible for EPA financial assistance.
Net interest expenses
Accrued interest on interim financing less any interest earnings the municipality may receive from investing unspent proceeds of the interim financing. This is used in the calculation to determine how much interest expense is eligible to be funded by the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan.
Net revenues
Means the Gross Earnings of the system (sewer or water) minus the Current Expenses. This calculation establishes how much money is available to pay debt service on revenue bonds for purposes of the Debt Coverage requirement.
Notice to proceed
The formal notification by which the municipality tells the construction contractor to start work on the project.
Nonpoint source
Under s. 281.65 (2) (b), Wis. Stats. [exit DNR], "nonpoint source" means a land management activity that contributes to runoff, seepage or percolation which adversely affects or threatens the quality of waters of this state and which is not a point source under s. 283.01 (12), Wis. Stats. [exit DNR]
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, also known as polluted runoff, is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground picking up natural and human–made pollutants, depositing them into rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater. In urban and residential areas, these pollutants often wash into storm drains, which run directly into these same waters. Sediments (soil particles, debris, toxic materials) and nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen) in runoff adversely affect or threaten the quality of local waters. Runoff pollutants include bacteria, detergents, fertilizers, gasoline, grass clippings, grease, leaves, manure, oil, pesticides, pet wastes, road salt, and yard waste. (see storm water projects)

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P

Parity bond
A revenue bond issued, or to be issued, with equal and ratable claim on the sewer utility revenues or water utility revenues as another outstanding revenue bond. (See also Senior Bonds and Junior Bonds)
Present value subsidy (PV)
PV is the State's estimated cost, over the life of the loan, of subsidizing the interest rate on the loan. The cost is expressed on a net present value basis. In the case of a grant award, the present value subsidy is 100% of the grant amount since no funds are repaid to the State.
Attention: Changes made to the state statutes in the 2015-2017 biennial budget process removed PV (present value subsidy) from the statute to reflect restructuring of the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF), hence references to PV in the codes are no longer valid. Note: The CWFP Hardship Financial Assistance subchapter (ch. NR 162, Wis. Adm. Code, subch. III) includes many references to present value subsidy (PV) because the statutes used PV as a financial control mechanism in the structure of the loan programs. In the most recent budget, PV was eliminated from the statutes. Therefore, a number of sections in this subchapter need revisions to adjust to the new fund structure.

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R

Refinancing
(also known as refunding) - Using Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) funds to pay off all or part of a debt that was taken out by the municipality to temporarily finance project costs.
Refinancing applies when the municipality takes out a debt (bank loan, Land Trust loan, Bond Anticipation Note, Rural Water Pool) to pay project costs, and then wants the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan to be used to payoff that debt, which is subject to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Refinancing (aka refunding) regulations and the state's limitations on Interim Financing. This would be a "refinancing" transaction rather than a "reimbursement" transaction.
Reimbursement
Using Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) loan proceeds to pay back a municipal account that advanced internal funds to temporarily pay project costs.
Reimbursement applies when the municipality is paying project costs with ordinary municipal funds (such as property tax revenue, user charge revenue, state shared revenue, general investment earnings) and then wants to be reimbursed from the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan proceeds, which are subject to the IRS Reimbursement Regulations and therefore likely need a "Reimbursement Resolution".
Reimbursement Resolution
(Declaration of Official Intent to Reimburse) - A municipal resolution required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) declaring the municipality's official intent to reimburse a municipal account with proceeds from a tax-exempt bond or promissory note. The U.S. Department of Treasury [exit DNR] regulations can be found in 26 CFR 1.150-2 [exit DNR].
Failure to pass a Reimbursement Resolution can result in project costs that cannot be reimbursed by the the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) or Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP). Project costs paid by a municipality out of its internal accounts, prior to adopting a Reimbursement Resolution, may not be eligible for reimbursement from the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan proceeds.
Repayment
The principal payments due on the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan. (see loan repayment)
Reserve capacity
Extra treatment capacity built into treatment plants and interceptor sewers to accommodate flow increases due to future population growth.
Revenue bond
A bond on which the debt service is primarily payable from the revenue generated by the water utility, sewer utility, or stormwater utility. A majority of Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loans are collateralized by revenue bonds. (see funds required for revenue bonds and general obligation bonds/notes)

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S

Senior bond
A revenue bond issued, or to be issued, that has a first claim on the revenues of the sewer utility or water utility. (See also Junior Bond and Parity Bond)
Servicing fee
A fee that may be designated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Administration (DOA) pursuant to s. 281.58(9)(d), Wis. Stats. [exit DNR], which shall cover the estimated costs of reviewing and acting upon a Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) application and servicing of a loan.
Sewer use ordinance (SUO)
A legal document enacted by a municipality that defines use of the municipality's treatment works and how the rules of use are enforced. (see sewer use ordinance)
Special assessment bond (B bond)
A bond on which the debt service is payable solely from the collection of installments (principal and interest) due on assessments levied on properties to pay for the construction of a project.
State revolving fund (SRF)
A fund that makes loans and then uses the loan payments, including interest, to make new loans for additional projects.
The state revolving fund (SRF) functions like an environmental infrastructure bank by providing low interest loans to eligible, municipal recipients for water infrastructure projects. As money is paid back into the state's revolving loan fund, the state makes new loans to other recipients for water infrastructure projects. Repayments of loan principal and interest earnings are recycled back into the SRF to finance new projects that allow the funds to "revolve" at the state level over time.
Stop-Work order
The suspension of state liability for work performed under a Financial Assistance Agreement (FAA) after notification is given to the recipient.
"Stop work order" means an order issued by the [administering authority] which requires that all construction activity on the site be stopped.
Storm sewer
A sewer intended to carry only storm waters, surface runoff, street wash waters and drainage. (see storm water projects)
Storm water
Rain water runoff, snow or ice melt runoff, surface runoff and drainage. (see storm water projects)
Subcontractor
A firm or individual hired by contract by the primary engineer or the primary construction contractor to perform all or a portion of the work that is included in the engineering contract between the municipality and the primary engineer or in the construction contract between the municipality and the primary construction contractor.
Subsidy
The cost to the state of making loans that have an interest rate that is less than the state's cost of funds. A grant award made by the state represents 100% subsidy by the state. (see interest rates)
Substantial completion
The date on which project construction is sufficiently complete in accordance with the contract documents so that the owner can occupy or utilize the project for its intended use. For purposes of the first principal payment on the Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF) loan, the substantial completion date remains the date specified in the Financial Assistance Agreement (FAA) and principal payments on the loan begin the May first (1st) after the substantial completion date.

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T

Tax base
The total property and resources subject to taxation. (See Assessed Valuation - Equalized Value)
Trustee
A bank designated by the bond issuer as the custodian of funds and official representative of bondholders. "Trustees" are appointed to insure compliance with the contract and represent bondholders to enforce their contract with the issuers.
Two-thirds rule
An interest rate rule applied to the construction of the wastewater collection system, interceptor or individual system project in an unsewered municipality or portion thereof. At least two-thirds of the initial flow for the project must be for wastewater originating from residences in existence for at least 20 years prior to the submission of the application for the project to be eligible for a below market interest rate. (see unsewered projects, see also s. 281.58(8)(c), Wis. Stats. [exit DNR])
Attention: Changes made to the state statutes in the 2015-2017 biennial budget process changed the language from "in existence on October 17, 1972" to "in existence for at least 20 years prior to the submission of the application." Ch. NR 162, Wis. Adm. Code, uses the language "in existence on October 17, 1972". Therefore, sections in this chapter need revisions.

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U

Urban runoff
Nonpoint source pollution, or polluted runoff, has many sources, including urban and residential areas. Urban runoff is composed of both storm water and non-storm water. Sources of urban runoff include construction sites, industry discharges, leaks, washing, irrigation, and precipitation. When rain falls or snow melts, water flows across pavement and lawns, washing natural and human–made pollutants into local lakes and streams. Impervious surfaces, such as, rooftops, sidewalks, driveways, gravel/paved parking lots and streets, cause more water to run off into ditches and storm drains, which run directly into these same waters. (see storm water projects, see also nonpoint source (NPS) pollution)
User charge system (UCS)
A document that defines the wastewater treatment charges paid by customers of a municipality's treatment works or best management practice or the water use charges paid by customers of a local governmental unit's drinking water system. (see user charge system)

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W

Wastewater
Means a waste stream conveyed to a treatment works via a sewage collection system, including a combined sewer conveying both sanitary wastewater and storm water.
Municipal wastewater is a general term applied to sanitary wastewater and urban runoff treated in a municipal treatment plant via a sewage collection system.

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Last revised: Thursday November 09 2017