DALLAS — Standard & Poor’s raised the underlying credit ratings for the Alamo Community College District and the Houston Community College System to AA-plus from AA as each prepares to bring maintenance tax notes to market.
Analysts said the upgrades reflect the “strong operating margins coupled with significant revenue-raising flexibility” of both systems.
The San Antonio-area Alamo district plans to issue nearly $12 million of notes at some point next week and the Houston system will offer $13.8 million of notes Wednesday.
Fitch Ratings assigned a AA rating to the Houston community college deal and affirmed the rating on about $131 million of outstanding limited-tax bonds and $64 million of maintenance-tax notes outstanding.
Fitch doesn’t rate the Alamo district’s underlying credit.
Moody’s Investors Service rates the Alamo district’s notes outstanding Aa2 and the district’s lease-revenue bonds outstanding Aa3.
The agency rates the Houston district’s notes Aa2 and revenue debt Aa3.
Southwest Securities Inc. is sole manager for the negotiated sale by the Alamo district. First Southwest Co. is the district’s financial adviser and Fulbright & Jaworski LLP is bond counsel.
Officials plan to use proceeds from the notes, which mature in 2010 and 2011, to renovate various facilities.
Merrill Lynch & Co. is lead manager for the Houston sale, with Hutchinson, Shockley, Erley & Co. and Frost Bank co-managers. The notes mature from 2011 through 2025.
RBC Capital Markets is the financial adviser to the system and Vinson & Elkins LLP is bond counsel.
Ronald Defalco, chief financial officer of the Houston system, said the upgrade “could result in savings of as much as 20 basis points.”
Standard & Poor’s also raised the underlying rating of the Houston Community College System Public Facility Corp.’s lease revenue bonds to AA from AA-minus.
Defalco said proceeds from the notes will fund an energy-efficiency project the community college has begun.
“Essentially, it’s a retooling of all our buildings,” he said. “For instance, we’ll be putting in motion-detecting lights in many rooms that will turn on and off as people come and go. We expect that the project will eventually pay for itself.”
The Houston system has a total student population of nearly 32,000 at six campuses across the nation’s fourth-largest city.
The Alamo district has five campuses across Bexar County, which has a total population of nearly 1.6 million.