Jennifer Tabakin, Town Manager
334 Main St.
Great Barrington, MA 01230
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Great Barrington Maintains AAA Bond Rating
GREAT BARRINGTON — Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin is pleased to announce that Great Barrington has retained its AAA bond rating for another year.
Great Barrington is one of only two towns in Berkshire County to earn a AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings, and was the first in the county to achieve that distinction when it was upgraded from its existing AA+ rating in 2016.
In its analysis of the town, S&P said Great Barrington’s rating comes as a result of strong performances in several key areas. The town’s strong economy, solid financial policies and practices and its positive budgetary performance–including operating surpluses in its general fund and at the total governmental fund level–all contributed to it retaining S&P’s best possible bond rating.
“This achievement is the result of a town-wide commitment to responsible spending and borrowing, and we’re pleased to have earned this rare distinction for the second straight year,” Town Manager Tabakin said. “The AAA rating reflects Great Barrington’s overall fiscal strength and stability, and I am proud of everyone who helped us maintain that status.”
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 its obligations is extremely strong.
Great Barrington is rated higher than the federal government due to S&P’s belief that the town is capable of maintaining better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress scenario based on its primarily locally derived revenue base, and the rater’s view that pledged revenue supporting debt service on the bonds is at limited risk of negative intervention.
S&P cited strong performance by Great Barrington in several credit worthiness areas, including:
- Economy: The town has a projected per capita effective buying income of 120 percent of the national level and per capita market value of $211,897. Overall, the town’s market value grew by 2.9 percent over the past year to $1.4 billion in 2017.
- Management: The town has very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices, with operating surpluses of 1.6 percent of expenditures in the general fund and 2.3 percent across all governmental funds in fiscal 2016.
- Budgetary Flexibility: Over the past three years, the total available fund balance has remained consistent. In addition, the town has the flexibility to raise additional revenues despite statewide tax caps, which S&P views as a positive credit factor.
- Strong Liquidity: with total government available cash at 60.6 percent of total
governmental fund expenditures and over 10 times governmental debt service in 2016. In S&P’s view, the town has strong access to external liquidity if necessary.
- Very Strong Debt and Contingent Liability Profile: Total governmental fund debt service is 5.9 percent of total governmental fund expenditures and approximately 71.3 percent of the direct debt is scheduled to be repaid within 10 years.
“Maintaining this rating is a clear indicator of our town’s positive financial outlook and and fiscal responsibility,” Finance Committee Chair Thomas Blauvelt said. “It also reflects extremely well on the hard work our town leadership has done to effectively budget and plan for Great Barrington’s continued financial health.”