Jennifer Tabakin, Town Manager
334 Main St.
Great Barrington, MA 01230
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington Becomes First Town in Berkshire County to Receive AAA Bond Rating
GREAT BARRINGTON — Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin is pleased to announce that Great Barrington has become the first community in Berkshire County to receive a AAA bond rating.
Awarded by Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings, Great Barrington has moved from AA+ to AAA.
As part of S&P Global Ratings’ review, the company stated that the rating reflects the town’s continued economic growth and historically strong budget performance, which has led to the maintenance of very strong reserves of at least 25 percent expenditures over the past five fiscal years.
AAA, the highest bond rating a city or town can receive, indicates a bond issuer’s financial strength to pay the principal and interest in a timely fashion. S&P Global Ratings issues this rating only when they feel a creditor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is extremely strong.
“This credit rating was achieved through years of hard work by the entire Great Barrington team,” Town Manager Tabakin said. “As the only community west of the Connecticut River to earn this designation, we are excited to share the news with our residents.”
S&P Global Ratings also found that Great Barrington has strong creditworthiness in areas including:
- Economy: with projected per capita effective buying income at 120 percent of the national level and a per capita market value of $203,854.
- Management: with strong financial policies and practices under the Financial Management Assessment methodology.
- Budgetary performance: with balanced operating results in the general fund and an operating surplus at the total governmental fund level in fiscal 2015.
- Budgetary Flexibility: with an available fund balance in fiscal 2015 of 29 percent of operating expenditures, and the flexibility to raise additional revenue despite commonwealth-wide tax caps.
- Liquidity: with total government available cash at 52.7 percent of the total governmental fund expenditures and 7.4 times governmental debt service, along with access to external liquidity.
- Debt and contingent liability position: with debt service carrying charges at 7.1 percent of expenditures and net direct debt that is 43.6 percent of total governmental fund revenue, the town’s overall net debt is less than 3 percent of market value and rapid amortization, with 76.3 percent of debt scheduled to be retired within 10 years.
“I am extremely proud of this major accomplishment,” said Financial Coordinator Lauren Sartori Hobgood. “This rating publicly validates that Great Barrington is well managed, has strong financial policies and best practices, and is in excellent financial health.”
“This is testimony to the dedication and professionalism of our financial management and prudent planning over the last several years,” added Michael Wise, Chair of the Great Barrington Finance Committee.