Norwalk gets top credit ratings in advance of $22 million bond sale

By Reece Alvarez

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The city of Norwalk’s triple-A bond rating has been reaffirmed by all three major credit rating agencies in addition to a stable forecast for the city’s fiscal future.

According to a statement from Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling’s office, the city was given a Aaa rating from Moody’s Investors Service and AAA ratings from S&P Global Ratings (Standard & Poor’s) and Fitch Ratings — the highest ratings awarded by each of the agencies.

The ratings were sought in advance of the administration seeking $22 million in a bond sale later this month to finance $4.1 million in school projects, $16.7 million in city capital projects and just over $1 million in urban renewal and redevelopment projects.

The city is expected to save $411,000 in interest expense compared to what the city would have had to pay if it held a lower Aa rating, according to the statement.

“The city will continue to maintain strong reserves levels throughout an economic cycle given its historically stable revenue performance, high degree of inherent budget flexibility, and demonstrated commitment to maintaining sound reserves within policy levels of 7.5 percent to 15 percent of revenues,” the Fitch report stated. “The rating is sensitive to shifts in the city’s strong financial management practices and maintenance of fundamental financial flexibility.”

Citing the city’s comprehensive fiscal policies, conservative management practices, improving fund balance levels and manageable debt position, Moody’s referred to the city as having a healthy financial position.

“We are unlikely to change the rating during our two-year outlook period,” the S&P report stated.

Robert Barron, the city’s director of finance, at a press conference emphasized the special conditions under which the city as able to maintain the ratings, particularly the city’s recently adopted operating budget that included the lowest property tax increase in more than a decade and $1.1 million in incremental funding for a restructuring of the Norwalk public school system’s special education program.

“It is an affirmation that all of these actions were taken in a fiscally responsible manner,” Barron said.

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