Mayor Walsh says the ratings mean Syracuse will experience the benefits of its quick and thorough response to the pandemic for the next 20 years

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced that Moody’s Investors Services and S&P Global Ratings, two of the world’s top credit ratings agencies, have maintained the City’s stable outlook. S&P also affirmed its long-term bond rating for the City, and Moody’s maintained its A1 bond rating.

Moody’s and S&P, leading authorities on the fiscal condition of business and municipal institutions, issued their reports June 14 following a comprehensive review and analysis of the City’s financial condition. The review is based largely on the conditions prior to the announcement of the American Rescue Plan and the reimbursement of state aid to the City.

In its report, S&P noted that the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic pressured the city’s finances and credited the City with being “proactive in initiating budget adjustments to maintain balanced operations.” Moody’s said the City “reacted strongly by aggressively adjusting its 2021 budget to face the new paradigm and, as a result, management expects to run a surplus.”

Mayor Walsh announced the contingency spending budget on Aug. 21, 2020 to help the City manage the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a matter of weeks early last year, the pandemic upended the fiscal landscape facing the City of Syracuse. It threatened our progress, but the ratings agencies’ reviews show we stayed on course to fiscal sustainability,” said Mayor Walsh. “With the arrival of federal pandemic aid, the City of Syracuse is in position to gain financial strength which is good for city services and infrastructure and attractive for outside investment here. I thank the community and our employees for standing with us as we weathered the storm created by the pandemic.”

The credit ratings directly impact Syracuse’s financial condition because they determine the interest rates for long-term borrowing for projects in the City. This month’s bond issuance, which is much larger than previous years due to the $28 million purchase and conversion of the City’s streetlights, will lock the City into a historically low rate of 1.86%. At that rate, the City will see the financial benefits of the quick and thorough response to the pandemic for the next 20 years.

S&P referred to Syracuse as the regional center for industrial, commercial and financial activities. It reviewed economic progress occurring in the City:

“Additional long-term economic goals and initiatives include the ‘Syracuse Surge’: the city is looking to deploy a 5G technology network to support a growing technology development industry. The city is also looking to revitalize business corridors and attract and incubate new business, particularly in technology. The Interstate 81 redevelopment and additional development of longstanding city institutions are other developments. Market value continues to improve. Hotel Syracuse, the inner harbor, and downtown growth have all contributed to market value growth. Based on current construction and ongoing economic development, we expect property tax base growth will likely remain modest during our outlook period.”

The latest positive ratings agency reports are another indicator of the City’s progress toward fiscal sustainability. In February, Mayor Walsh announced the City of Syracuse received an independent audit report free of “material weaknesses” in internal financial controls. It was the first time since outside auditors began rating internal controls that the City did not receive such a finding.

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