S&P Global Ratings raised its rating on Macon-Bibb County’s general obligation rating from A to AA-, which is two full notches, based on its recent improvements to its current financial situation and future outlook. In addition to the rating increase, Macon-Bibb County was given a “Stable Outlook,” which speaks to the direction of the government’s finances.
“This is a huge step in improving our consolidated government because it shows that what we’re doing with our finances is making us a stronger community, something people told me over and over again that past several years,” says Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller.
In its report, S&P wrote, “The two-notch upgrade reflects Macon-Bibb County’s improvement in available reserves, which have risen to a very strong level from a weak level over the course of three fiscal years. The improved flexibility occurs as a result of improved budgetary practices and management’s approach in rebalancing the county’s financial performance following the 2014 county consolidation.”
The rating reflects the view of Macon-Bibb County’s:
- Adequate economy, with projected per capita effective buying income (EBI) at 72.8% and market value per capita of $75,109, which we view as broad and diverse;
- Strong management, with good financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology;
- Strong budgetary performance, which closed with operating surpluses in the general fund and at the total governmental fund level in fiscal 2020;
- Very strong budgetary flexibility, with an available fund balance in fiscal 2020 of 21% of operating expenditures;
- Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash at 40.0% of total governmental fund expenditures and 7.3x governmental debt service, and access to external liquidity we consider strong;
- Strong debt and contingent liability profile, with debt service carrying charges at 5.5% of expenditures and net direct debt that is 52.5% of total governmental fund revenue, as well as low overall net debt at less than 3% of market value and rapid amortization, with 76.5% of debt scheduled to be retired in 10 years, but a large pension and other postemployment benefit (OPEB) obligation and the lack of a plan to sufficiently address it; and
- Very strong institutional framework score.
“To have the national organizations say our budgetary performance is strong is a great place to be, and with the incoming funds from the American Rescue Plan to make up what we lost in the pandemic and potential for the OLOST that will lower property taxes, we’ll be in an even better place,” adds Mayor Miller.
You can view the full report here.