Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it has raised its long-term rating to AA-plus from AA on Great Barrington, Mass.' general obligation debt outstanding.
The outlook is stable.
"The upgrade reflects what we view as the town's historically very strong financial reserves and performance, coupled with formalized management policies," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Apple Lo.
At the same time, Standard & Poor's has assigned its AA-plus long-term rating, and stable outlook, to Great Barrington's series 2013 GO municipal purpose loan.
The rating reflects the town's: stable economy as southern Berkshire County's commercial center; good income levels coupled with extremely strong wealth per capita; good financial position, with historically very strong reserves; and low overall debt burden coupled with rapid amortization.
Large unfunded other postemployment benefit liabilities somewhat offset the above credit strengths.
The town's full faith and credit pledge secures the new and existing GO bonds. Proceeds of the bonds will be used to fund various capital projects.
The stable outlook reflects what Standard & Poor's views as Great Barrington's very strong financial position and the town's adherence to formalized management policies. Moreover, the town's stable economy and diverse property tax base should allow for revenues to remain strong and consistent.
A consideration of a positive rating action over time would require further actions to mitigate the effects of the town's long-term liabilities in addition to Great Barrington continuing to maintain balanced operations and stronger reserves. With these reasons, it does not expect to change the rating within the two-year outlook time frame.
Great Barrington (population about 7,000) occupies approximately 46 square miles in western Massachusetts, in the southern portion of Berkshire County. It is about 130 miles west of Boston and 35 miles southeast of Albany, N.Y. The town also serves as the commercial center for southern Berkshire County with numerous restaurants and retail stores.