SARASOTA COUNTY – Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services both announced this week that approximately $209.5 million of Sarasota County’s Utility System bonds will maintain their current AA+ rating with a stable outlook.
In addition, the utility system is in the process of issuing $17.6 million in utility system revenues bonds for improvements to the water, wastewater and reuse systems, and $43.3 million in utility system revenue refunding bonds, which are being issued for interest savings. Both bonds were also provided with AA+ ratings from both rating agencies.
According to Fitch, which is based in New York, the ratings are characterized by several factors, including the utility systems’ strong financial performance, low debt, solid operating profile, manageable system expansion, solid service area fundamentals as well as exceeding its current rating criteria.
According to Standards & Poor’s, also based in New York, the county’s stable and diverse customer base, adequate capacity for both water and wastewater treatment, good operational and financial management frameworks, extremely strong history of all-in debt service coverage, and extremely strong liquidity also contributed to an affirmed AA+ rating.
According to Assistant County Administrator Steve Botelho, who also serves as the county’s Chief Financial Management Officer, the bond rating represents the cautious and responsible management of public funds by county officials.
“Our responsibility as stewards of these funds drives the hard work done by county staff, and that hard work is reflected in these ratings. Our rating outlook moving forward is also stable, which is another indicator of the county being in a strong financial position,” added Botelho.
Fitch Ratings also believes that Sarasota County’s modest debt structure and growing economic base will continue to have a positive impact on the bond rating.
“Sarasota County continues to be proactive managing our reserve funds,” said Tom Harmer, Sarasota County administrator. “It’s a combination of factors such as those strong reserve fund policies, our overall financial capacity and conservative spending that keeps our outlook stable and maintains the county’s high-level ratings.”
The bonds will be sold in the next few weeks and proceeds will be used for improvements to the water, wastewater and reuse systems and to advance refund portions of outstanding utility system revenue bonds, series 2007. The advance refunding is expected to result in $5.0 million in net present value savings for the utility system.
The bonds will be sold by City Group Global Markets Inc. as senior manager and RBC Capital Markets, LLC and Raymond James & Associates Inc. as co-manager.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000 or visit www.scgov.net.