Trip pays off for Pasco officials
In the days before winter break, Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning and some key members of his finance team traveled to New York City. Their goal: To convince bond raters that the district's $27 million bond issuance in support of new construction deserved positive marks, paving the way for better interest rates and possibly more interested investors.
The effort paid off.
This week, both Fitch and Moody's deemed the Pasco school district a strong investment.
Fitch rated the bond issue A+ and the district's financial management an even better AA-. It noted in particular the district's financial conservatism including its insistence on holding an unrestricted fund balance of at least 5 percent.
"During prior periods of flat or declining state aid management has proved it can effectively control costs to preserve its financial position, which is an important factor in Fitch's consideration of risk associated with a high dependence on state support," the group wrote.
Moody's similarly rated the district bonds at an A1, with the financial management a better Aa3.
"The Aa3 issuer rating reflects the district's slowly recovering and sizeable tax base, below average resident wealth levels, adequate financial position, average direct debt burden with an above average exposure to variable rate debt, and elevated pension liability," it wrote.
The district plans to sell its bonds in mid January.