The office of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry issued a press release Monday afternoon noting positive trends between the city and bond ratings agencies.
“In announcing numerous credit upgrades since Mayor Curry took office, Fitch and S&P acknowledged ‘prudent management,’ while Moody’s applauded the city’s ‘strong management with good financial policies and practices.’ However, even in the midst of that financial praise, experts raised concerns about Jacksonville’s mounting unfunded pension liabilities. In a July statement, Fitch noted that Jacksonville’s long-term credit rating depended on its ability to ‘continue to moderate the impact of its pension liability on the annual budget,'” the email from Curry’s office noted.
Of course, back in August, “voters overwhelmingly approved his plan to extend a half-penny sales tax to fund the city’s pension liabilities. In its Sept. 15 U.S. Weekly Credit Outlook, Moody’s called the mayor’s victory a ‘credit positive,’ adding that it ‘represents a positive step related to Jacksonville’s most significant credit challenge,'” Curry’s office added.
“From Day 1, we committed to scrutinizing our city’s finances to root out waste and find the best ways to use taxpayer dollars; and within two weeks of taking office, we submitted a balanced budget that city council members unanimously approved,” said Mayor Curry. “Every day we look for ways to protect taxpayers, and these improved credit ratings speak to that disciplined approach to finances and budgeting.”
Included in the release: documentation of Better Jacksonville Plan sales tax revenue upgrades in February to A+ from S&P and Fitch, with a A1 from Moody’s in that category; a March upgrade to AA in excise tax revenue from Moody’s; a July Fitch AA long-term credit rating and an AA issuer credit rating predicated on expectations the city will “continue to demonstrate a prudent level of fiscal management” and “continue to moderate the impact of its pension liability on the annual budget;” similar upgrades in the special revenue rating in August; and an upgraded commercial paper rating in September.