|SARASOTA COUNTY – Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings assigned “AA+” ratings again for Sarasota County’s Utility Revenue Bonds, and again affirmed the “AA+” rating for the utility system revenue and refunding bonds, and Water Infrastructure and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan. |
The approximate $130 million Utility Revenue Series 2022 bond and $105 million WIFIA loan, issued November 2021, will fund portions of the enhancements to the Bee Ridge Water Reclamation Facility (BRWF), including conversion to Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) process and expansion of daily treatment capacities. The upgrade to AWT will meet Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) requirements and standards by June 2025. The facility is also being expanded to increase treatment capacity from 12 million gallons per day to 18 million gallons per day.
According to Sarasota County Administrator Jonathan Lewis, the WIFIA loan and Series 2022 bond are the major funding components for upgrades to the BRWRF and we are very pleased with the “AA+” ratings with stable outlooks.
“Our dedication to improving and maintaining water quality is a direct result of the county commission’s leadership, and their ongoing commitment to protecting our natural resources,” Lewis added. “The bond is expected to close in September and will help move this extremely important project forward.”
Steve Botelho, deputy county administrator and chief financial management officer, noted that the utility system revenue was not significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and that the county continues strong performance in servicing debts and maintaining financial assets with a solid management team.
“We were also pleased to issue the bonds during a period of supply chain issues and significant inflation and have not varied our expected completion dates,” he said.
Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings reports determine the county’s perceived worthiness for investing, similar to an individual’s credit score. Higher bond ratings are typically accompanied by a lower interest rate. “AA+” indicates the county is doing a great job at paying off current debt and is likely to pay off future debts. The rating also indicates a lower risk to investors.
Fitch Ratings noted that the “AA+” rating is reflective of the utility system’s strong financial profile and revenues with low operating risk, and the county’s oversight of the system’s direct operations and rates.
S&P Global Ratings indicated that their rating on the utility system is supported by these credit factors:A growing economic base, and a stable and diverse customer base.Extremely strong history of all-in debt service coverage that is projected to continue. Extremely strong liquidity that can be sustained through the planned Capital Improvement Program.Sound-to-strong operational and financial policies and procedures.
Sarasota County issues revenue bonds to help fund capital projects. To view complete analysis of the county’s utility system revenue bond ratings, visit Fitch Ratings or S&P Global Ratings.
For more information, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 3-1-1 or visit scgov.net