Markets endured another choppy week of trading as the S&P 500 notched fresh highs amid back-and-forth pressure from Wall Street.
Below, we outline the upgrades and downgrades across the municipal bonds market from this past week:
- Orange (County of) FL: Moody’s has upgraded the rating on the county’s outstanding parity bonds to Aa3 from A1. The upgrade to Aa3 reflects an improved debt service coverage on a substantial amount of tourist development tax revenue. The upgrade also takes into account the outsized importance tourism represents to the local economy and the resiliency of the TDT revenues.
- Frederick (City of) MD: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded to Aa1 from Aa2 the rating on the City of Frederick, MD’s $175 million in general obligation (GO) debt. The upgrade reflects the robust expansion of the city’s tax base due to major development within Fort Detrick and the biotechnology industry.
- Fishkill (Town of) NY: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the Town of Fishkill’s (NY) General Obligation rating to Baa1 from Baa3. The upgrade to Baa1 reflects the town’s strong improvement to its financial position over the last year, including the elimination of a negative operating fund balance and improvement in liquidity to the extent that it will stop the use of short-term cash flow borrowing.
- Aleppo (Township of) PA: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the Township of Aleppo, PA’s General Obligation rating to A3 from Baa1. The upgrade to A3 from Baa1 recognizes the ongoing ability of the township’s sewer fund to pay debt service from net sewer revenues, leaving little prospect that the general fund will have to pay debt service on the guaranteed sewer revenue debt.
- Mill Valley School District, CA: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the Mill Valley School District’s (CA) general obligation (GO) bonds to Aa1 from Aa2. The upgrade to Aa1 reflects the district’s robust and growing tax base in the economically vibrant San Francisco Bay Area; extremely strong local socioeconomic profile; and strong financial position combined with a demonstrated community willingness to provide supplemental financial support to local schools.
- Battle Creek, MI: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to A1 from Aa3 the City of Battle Creek, MI’s general obligation limited tax (GOLT) rating. The Aa3 issuer rating incorporates the city’s sizable, mature tax base in west-central Michigan (Aa2 positive) with significant economic and taxpayer concentration.
- Southwestern Law School, CA: Moody’s Investors Service downgrades Southwestern Law School’s (SLS) ratings to Baa2 from Baa1. The downgrade reflects expectations of continued enrollment declines in fall 2015 and further weakening of student demand metrics as the school continues to adjust to the challenging legal education space.
- Richmond (City of) CA: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the City of Richmond, CA’s issuer rating to Baa1 from A1. The downgrade to Baa1 of the city’s issuer rating (implied GO) reflects the city’s seriously weakened financial position, evidenced by negative available operating fund balances and very narrow liquidity.
- Tehachapi Unified School District, CA: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the rating of Tehachapi Unified School District’s (CA) general obligation (GO) bonds to A2 from A1. The G.O. rating downgrade to A2 reflects the decline in the district’s financial profile because of operating deficits in four out of the last five fiscal years and the expectation of another operating deficit in fiscal 2015.
- Chicago Public Schools, IL: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to Ba3 from Baa3 the rating on the Chicago Board of Education, IL’s $6.2 billion of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt. The Ba3 rating reflects CPS’s steadily escalating pension contributions and use of reserves to fund those contributions.
- Chicago Park District, IL: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to Ba1 from Baa1 the rating on the Chicago Park District (CPD), IL’s $616 million of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt. Based on the Illinois Supreme Court’s May 8 overturning of the statute that governs the State of Illinois’ (A3 negative) pensions, Moody’s believes that the city’s options for curbing growth in its own unfunded pension liabilities have narrowed considerably.
- West Mifflin Area School District, PA: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded West Mifflin Area School District, PA’s outstanding general obligation and general obligation limited tax debt to Baa3 from A3 and Baa1, respectively. The downgrade to Baa3 incorporates the district’s history of structural imbalance, which has resulted in negative fund balance and a reliance on cash-flow borrowing.
- Chicago (City of) IL: Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to Ba1 from Baa2 the rating on the City of Chicago, IL’s $8.1 billion of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt; $542 million of outstanding sales tax revenue debt; and $268 million of outstanding and authorized motor fuel tax revenue debt. The Ba1 rating on Chicago’s GO debt incorporates expected growth in the city’s highly elevated unfunded pension liabilities.