Standard & Poor’s last week lowered its rating to A-plus from AAA on the Omaha Metropolitan Utilities District’s water revenue bonds. The outlook is stable.
The downgrade is due to “diluted coverage and low liquidity as a result of operating revenues coming in below expectations,” analysts said in a release on the downgrade.
The move affects $189 million of debt. The bonds are secured by a pledge of the district’s water revenue.
The utilities district provides 190,000 customers with water and gas services in Douglas and Sarpy counties in the Omaha metro region.
The district’s operations have been weakened by lower-than-expected customer usage, analysts said.
The weakened fiscal position led to debt-service coverage of less than one times in 2009.
“We expect that the district’s adjustments to its 2010 budget will improve debt-service coverage levels in order to meet the bond covenant requiring a minimum of 1.2 times coverage, which has not been met since 2007,” analyst Caroline West said in the rating report.
“We also expect that management will continue to take the steps necessary to maintain at least adequate liquidity levels,” she added.
The district is boosted by its ability to raise rates and Omaha’s diverse and broad economic base.