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Greenville’s debt rating gets boost from Moody’s Investors Service

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Staff Report
gsanews@scbiznews.com
Published Nov. 16, 2015

The city of Greenville now holds the highest credit rating from the three largest credit rating services in the country.

Last week, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded its rating of the city’s general obligation debt to Aaa. The upgrade came at the same time Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services reaffirmed the city’s triple-A rating. According to city officials, Greenville is the only city in South Carolina to hold the highest possible rating from the three largest credit rating services in the country.

"City Council’s hard work, year after year, in making smart and strategic investments pays off as Greenville achieves yet another triple-A credit rating,” said Mayor Knox White, in a statement. “I’m pleased the rating analysts recognize Greenville’s important contributions to the Upstate’s diverse economy, our vibrant downtown and business district and excellent financial condition.”

According to city officials, analysts from Moody’s conducted a city tour and obtained information on the city’s finances, economic development activity and quality of life during a trip on Nov. 2. Moody’s said the upgrade “reflects the city’s long history of strong management, conservative budgetary practices and prudent fiscal policies, as well as its regionally important economy and diverse tax base.”

“This doesn’t happen by accident,” said Greenville City Manager John Castile. “It is the product of an exceptional staff that is dedicated to the city’s success, and a reflection of the alignment of day-to-day operations with City Council’s vision and goals.”

Moody’s said the city’s rating outlook was “stable,” and expected the financial position “will remain solid and its tax base will continue a trend of modest growth driven by ongoing development spurred by expanding manufacturing, higher education and medical sectors.”

While Fitch rated the $8.3 million of general obligation bonds, series 2012 at triple-A, it assigned a rating of double-A-plus to the city’s $18.94 million in taxable installment purchase revenue bonds, series 2015. The latter bonds are expected to sell on or about Dec. 3 via negotiation. Fitch said the bond proceeds will be used to fund the costs of acquiring, constructing, renovating and equipping a municipal parking facility.

Like Moody’s, Fitch said the city’s rating outlook was “stable,” while saying the city’s financial management is “sound” and “reserve levels are consistently healthy.” Fitch said the city’s financial position will remain stable “over the next several years.”

One of the key factors in the city’s stability is manufacturing. Fitch said it remains an “important component” of the local economy as it accounts for nearly 15% of the Greenville-Mauldin-Anderson metropolitan statistical area.

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