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April 25, 2013

Greenville still considered good investment

GREENVILLE — Even with millions of dollars in bonds up for vote starting next week, the City of Greenville has been able to maintain its relatively high bond rating.

The Fitch Ratings service Wednesday affirmed the city’s “AA-” financial rating, with a stable outlook. The rating pertained to $37.3 million in outstanding general obligation bonds and approximately $6.4 million in combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation.

The agency’s report indicated the city has maintained a sound financial position, with ending balances  healthy and in excess of policy targets.

On the other hand, Fitch said Greenville’s wealth and income indicators are below average while also noting local unemployment has declined to just above the state level and below the national level.

Greenville’s overall debt burden is expected to remain moderate, according to the report, which indicated the firefighter pension funded ratio is weak, with annual payments have been below actuarially required levels, increasing the pension obligation.

Overall debt service, pension and other post-employment costs as a percentage of spending are also reported to be high.

The report credited the city’s sound finances and the maintenance of strong reserve balances.  Fiscal year 2012 ended with a $4.5 million unrestricted general fund balance, or 23.2 percent of spending.

The report indicated city officials expect balanced operations for fiscal year 2014, with no significant draw-down of the fund balance.

The overall tax rate has been $69.99 cents per $100 assessed valuation since fiscal year 2011, which represents a decrease of 10 percent since fiscal year 2006 to partially offset the impact of tax base growth.

The full report is available at www.fitchratings.com.

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