Mayor Baldelli-Hunt Releases Good News That Fitch Upholds City’s Investment Grade “A” Bond Rating Positive Operating Margins, Improved Liquidity and Economic Growth Cited by Rating Agency
WOONSOCKET, R.I.: Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt announced that Fitch Ratings has maintained the City’s General Obligation Bond Rating at an Investment Grade “A” level and with a stable outlook. Fitch acknowledged that the City’s improved financial operations, recent budget surpluses and improved economic growth following a pre-2013 history of “considerably strained fiscal operations leading to significant budget deficits and negative ending balances” have allowed it to maintain fiscal stability despite the potential for state funding declines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am pleased that Fitch has once again recognized our efforts in bringing fiscal stability and economic growth to Woonsocket, and has kept us at an investment grade “A” bond rating in spite of the many challenges communities face from the COVID-19 pandemic,” exclaimed Mayor Baldelli-Hunt. The Mayor stated, “Keeping our “A” bond rating in this environment is an acknowledgement to our having operated the City with disciplined fiscal procedures, sound budgetary practices and more efficient operations. These were crucial in overcoming our past financial difficulties and growing our economic base and are now helping us cope with issues resulting from the pandemic.” Mayor Baldelli-Hunt added, “Seven years ago during our financial crisis our bond rating had sunk to junk bond status, but instead of giving in and going bankrupt as some advocated, we tackled our fiscal problems head-on and overcame them with hard work from our dedicated City employees and unwavering support from our taxpayers.” Mayor Baldelli-Hunt reiterated that although Woonsocket has investment grade bond ratings from both Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services there are no plans for the City to issue any new general obligation debt. Instead, the Administration has made it a priority to redeem existing general obligation debt when it was financially advantageous to do so and has paid down approximately $59 million of debt since 2013. The Mayor emphasized, “I view our investment-grade bond ratings as promotional tools that signal that we are a stable, wellmanaged community. Our higher bond ratings have helped us attract new residents and businesses to our City which consequently have helped us broaden our tax base and reduce our property tax rates during the past five years.”As detailed in the Fitch report, the affirmation of the City’s “A” bond rating reflects positive operating margins and improved liquidity levels. Fitch also cited the City’s recent, and expected, improved economic growth which combined with the City’s spending controls allows for improved financial and budget flexibility.