Fitch Ratings last week upgraded the short-term rating for the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board’s variable-rate revenue bonds to AA/F1-plus from AA/F1. The action affects $77.7 million of outstanding debt.

The upgrade of the short-term rating is in connection with the substitution of internal liquidity support with a standby bond purchase agreement with Wachovia Bank NA, Fitch said.

The standby bond purchase agreement provides for the payment of the purchase price of tendered bonds during the daily and weekly interest rate periods. The bonds initially were sold in the weekly-rate mode, but they may be converted to a term or fixed-rate interest period. The bond purchase agreement will expire on Jan. 31, 2011, unless extended, or on some event that causes termination.

The long-term AA rating, currently on rnegative watch, continues to be based on the support of insurance from Ambac Assurance Corp. in effect until the bonds mature on July 1, 2037, Fitch said.

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