County bonds earn strong rating from Fitch
‘Very healthy’ financial position, improving economy drive outlook
SARASOTA COUNTY – The county’s bonds have received another favorable mark from Fitch Ratings, a global leader in credit ratings and research, based on an excellent credit profile and “very healthy” financial position.
Sarasota County’s $37.5 million infrastructure sales surtax revenue refunding bonds received an “AA+” rating from Fitch, which was accompanied by a “stable” outlook, the company announced this week.
Fitch also affirmed an “AAA” for the county’s implied general obligations rating, driven by “superior financial management, generally modest debt structure and diverse and growing economic base,” it said in a press release. The county maintains a very strong financial profile, according to Fitch analysts, and financial operations are well maintained, “as evidenced by abundant reserves, conservative budgeting practices and high levels of liquidity.”
Last month, Fitch Ratings upgraded Sarasota County’s utility system revenue bond rating from “AA” to “AA+” based on an improving local economy.
“This latest news from Fitch Ratings reaffirms the county’s healthy financial position,” said Steve Botelho, assistant county administrator. “Fitch recognizes that we have instituted financial policies designed to provide a strong base of reserves and that our community is seeing signs of a strengthening economy.”
The infrastructure sales surtax bonds will be sold in the next few weeks, and proceeds will be used to advance refund portions of outstanding infrastructure sales tax revenue bonds from 2008. This is expected to result in $3.1 million in net present value savings for Sarasota County and also free up an additional $6.9 million in debt service reserves that would otherwise remain encumbered until the bonds mature in 2024.
Of these additional bond proceeds, $2.1 million freed up in Fiscal Year 2015 will be used toward the county’s roadway resurfacing program.
The bonds will be sold by Bank of America / Merrill Lynch as senior manager and RBC Capital Markets, LLC as co-manager.