BRADENTON, Fla. — The Athens-Clarke County Unified Government in Georgia won two rating upgrades ahead of pricing $208 million of water and sewerage revenue bonds.

Moody's Investors Service upgraded the bonds to Aa1 from Aa2, and Standard & Poor's raised its ratings to AA from AA-minus on April 27.

Both rating agencies said the higher ratings reflected the water and sewer system's sound financial position.

The upgrades affect $222 million in outstanding bonds.

Fitch Ratings assigned an AA-plus rating to the refunding bond issue that is expected to price during the first week in May.

The bond proceeds will refund debt sold in 2008 and provide $15 million for system improvements.

"The upgrade to Aa1 reflects the ongoing stability in the system's financial position, demonstrated by sound debt service coverage, and ample liquidity levels," said Moody's analyst Lauren Von Bargen.

The system is further bolstered by conservative budgeting, multi-year forecasting, a stable service area that benefits from the University of Georgia, and manageable debt levels, Von Bargen said. The system has ample water and sewer treatment capacity.

S&P analyst Scott Garrigan said his agency's rating also reflects the lack of lack of significant additional capital needs with about $68 million of projects scheduled to be funded through 2019.

Athens-Clarke County, a unified government since 1991, is about 65 miles northeast of Atlanta and has a population of about 122,000. The water system serves about 95% of the population, while the sewer system serves about 75%, according to Fitch.

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