Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

New bond rating gives Dunedin more financial flexibility, lower borrowing costs

DUNEDIN — New stormwater and capital improvement projects could start popping up around town thanks to a recent improvement in the city's bond rating.

The new bond rating — local government's version of a credit score — is the result of improved findings handed down by the Big Three national bond-rating agencies, said Dunedin finance director Jeff Yates. The companies measure cities' financial stability and creditworthiness, similar to the way credit reporting agencies assign credit scores to individuals.

A better credit rating brings lower interest rates on loans, which means Dunedin can afford to borrow more money and stretch out those payments over longer periods of time.

"We can either do more projects or not have to raise the utility rates," Yates said.

The agencies released Dunedin's new ratings in May, and already, Yates said, Dunedin has used the information to refinance past loans on a long list of water/wastewater and stormwater utility projects.

The new lines of credit are expected to save water/wastewater ratepayers $1.43 million during the life of the loans. The refinancing is anticipated to save stormwater ratepayers $290,000.

Yates said Dunedin has also used its upgraded status to obtain interest rates of less than 3 percent on two new loans:

•A $5.9 million, 20-year stormwater utility loan, a portion of which will go toward completing the Orangewood Outfall project. That project is aimed at relieving chronic flooding and improving water quality in south Dunedin through stormwater pipe improvements.

•A $17.9 million water/wastewater loan. Some of that will be used to complete a replacement of an early 1960s drinking water line along the Dunedin Causeway.

Yates said the new rating will also translate into savings down the road on other anticipated projects, including stormwater drainage improvements at President Street and renovation of the city's water and wastewater treatment plants.

The finance director said the Big Three bond rating agencies earlier this year analyzed Dunedin's financial standing during two grueling days of presentations and followup meetings in New York.

It was the first time the city had been rated since 2007. The stormwater and water/wastewater utilities, which were once a single entity, were rated separately for the first time.

Moody's Investors Service upgraded Dunedin's bond rating from Aa3 to Aa2. The agency rated the water and wastewater utility as A1 stable and the stormwater utility as Aa3.

Standard & Poor's gave the overall city an AA- rating, and rated the water and wastewater utility as AA- stable, and the stormwater utility as AA.

Fitch rated the stormwater utility as AA-.

The ratings indicate that Dunedin has a strong capacity to meet its financial commitments, carries the lowest level of credit risk and differs very little from an organization with a top rating of AAA.

Yates credited the City Commission with "having the foresight" to urge city staff to pursue the new designation.

"The ratings agencies recognized the city's commitment to infrastructure, as well as how the city has been managed during these economically challenging times," Mayor Dave Eggers said in a statement. "The savings from refinancing will help to maintain low rates for the residents and continue our infrastructure programs."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Electric appeals OSHA citation for fatal Big Bend accident

Tampa Electric appeals OSHA citation for fatal Big Bend accident

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co. is formally contesting the biting citation the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration handed down in December for a maintenance incident in June that left five workers dead.At a meeting with the Tampa Bay Tim...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Freestyle skier doesn’t even bother to try tricks in Olympic women’s halfpipe

Freestyle skier doesn’t even bother to try tricks in Olympic women’s halfpipe

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The words left Liz Swaney’s lips without an ounce of irony. No telling curl of the lips. No wink. Nothing. She meant them. All of them. "I didn’t qualify for finals so I’m really disappointed," the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

When Cedar Hames spoke, you listened.He was a natural storyteller, always dressed sharp to match his wit and natural elegance. He grew a two-person business in St. Petersburg into a leading tourism, advertising and marketing agency over an esteemed 3...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Last week, a video went viral that showed Swiss freestyle skier Fabian Bosch dangling while hanging onto an escalator, arm outstretched, as a teammate rode alongside him."We had to wait until our apartment was ready, so we had to kill time, we got re...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The first notes of Ed Sheeran’s "Shape of You" had just played when Gabriella Papadakis suddenly became aware that people were about to see a whole lot more of her shape than she had planned. The French ice dancer’s glitterin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Video: Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in brief court hearing

Video: Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in brief court hearing

PARKLAND — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has appeared in court for a procedural hearing. Cruz said nothing at Monday’s hearing in Broward County Circuit Court, the first he attended in person and not via teleconference from jail. He ke...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Teachers say Florida shooter’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

Teachers say Florida shooter’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

PARKLAND, Fla. — The real problems started at least as early as middle school and quickly intensified. There were the vocal outbursts, disturbing drawings of stick figures with guns, constant disciplinary issues. There were threatening statements wri...
Updated: 3 hours ago