NEW YORK - Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the general obligation rating of Buffalo, N.Y., to A1 from A2, the highest rating in the city’s history.
The agency also assigned a stable outlook. The rating affects $238 million of outstanding debt.
Buffalo’s comptroller, Mark Schroeder, who met with rating agencies last month, said he and other city officials showed that they are committed to the city’s fiscal health.
“Moody’s continues to take notice of the progress Buffalo has made, both in improving the city’s financial condition, as well as forging a new economy based on health care and education,” Schroeder said in a statement.
Moody’s also assigned an A1 with a stable outlook to the city’s $22 million of general improvement serial bonds, $5 million of school serial bonds, and $15.3 million of refunding GOs, scheduled for a competitive offering on April 17.
Standard & Poor’s assigned the bonds an A and Fitch Ratings assigned an A-plus. Both gave stable outlooks.
Pat Curry, special assistant to the comptroller, said he hopes the higher rating will save the city money on interest payments.
The rating agency said the upgrade reflects “significant improvement of the city’s financial operations and liquidity” and that the city “demonstrated conservative fiscal management and policies.”
Schroeder pointed to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge of $1 billion in incentives for private-sector development, and UB2020 — the University of Buffalo’s strategic plan — as factors driving the growth of the city’s tax base.
In addition to growing the tax base, Schroeder said the city must continue to manage its finances with “discipline and restraint.”
The rating agency also said the stable outlook reflects a belief that the city’s liquidity and reserve position will remain adequate.
The general improvement serial bonds will have maturities out to 2023 and the school serial bonds will go out to 2027.
The refunding bonds will have maturities of 2012 to 2024 and will refund debt sold in 1998 and 2001.
Curry said that the city has more bond issues scheduled for this month, including its Municipal Water Finance Authority’s $16.2 million sale scheduled for April 26. Roosevelt & Cross, Inc. and Ramirez & Co. will be the underwriters.
The Erie County Industrial Development Agency is also expected to sell $212 million of refunding revenue bonds, scheduled for April 19. Citi will be lead underwriter.