Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor’s Service have both affirmed their bond ratings for the City of Suffolk. Fitch Ratings affirmed the City’s AAA Rating for $198.39 million in outstanding General Obligation (GO) Bonds and the Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR). Fitch also assigned a AAA rating to the City’s approximately $79.42 million series 2016 GO and refunding bonds. Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Aa1 rating to the City of Suffolk, VA's $79.4 million General
Obligation and Refunding Bonds, Series 2016. Moody's maintains the Aa1 rating on the city's $467 million of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt, which includes tax-supported and self-supported utility debt.
Fitch highlighted the city's expanding economy and growth prospects, low long-term liability burden, strong financial management, healthy reserves, and broad budgetary tools. The City's combination of general fund balance and superior budget flexibility position it to comfortably manage through economic downturns without diminishing its overall financial flexibility. Additionally, the combined burden of debt and unfunded pension liabilities is low in relation to personal income and should remain relatively stable over time based on future capital and issuance plans and the strong funded position of the city component of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS). The City's combination of general fund balance and superior budget flexibility position it to comfortably manage through economic downturns without diminishing its overall financial flexibility. Fitch had previously upgraded the City’s rating from AA+ to AAA to 2015.
Moody’s noted the stable outlook reflects their expectation that reserves will continue to remain strong in the near-term given management's conservative approach to budgeting. Approximately $32.9 million of the new issuance will be used to fund school and general city projects, as well as various vehicles and other equipment. The remainder will be used to refund outstanding GO debt for not less than 3% net present value savings with no extension of maturity.
Mayor Linda T. Johnson advised, “Fitch and Moody’s continue to see the City of Suffolk as a thriving and growing municipality. The citizens of our City are the main benefactors of our strong financial state as we can continue to provide services that are impactful and financially solid.”
Suffolk remains one of a select group of Triple AAA rated cities in Virginia.