Charleston is scheduled to competitively sell $18.1 million of general obligation bonds today following a rating upgrade earlier this week.

Standard & Poor’s Tuesday upgraded the city to AAA from AA-plus and Moody’s Investors Service reaffirmed its Aa2 rating, said Charlton deSaussure Jr., an attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA, bond counsel on the deal.

Improved secondary market conditions for tax-exempt bonds in early 2009, combined with a successful sale in Guilford County, N.C., on Tuesday, contributed to the timing of bringing Charleston’s deal to market this week, according to deSaussure.

“The upgrade to triple-A is another positive aspect of this timing,” he said.

Charleston delayed selling bonds in the fourth quarter of last year due to soft demand for tax-exempt debt and would have issued bond anticipation notes if the selling environment had not improved, deSaussur said.

The proceeds from the sale will defray purchasing cost of a multistory, 598-space parking garage. The city is obligated to buy the garage from the builder by the end of January. The bonds mature from 2010 to 2023.

Charleston, the state’s second-largest city behind Columbia, has $39.5 million of GOs and $1.9 million of Bans outstanding.

Guilford County served as a potential bellwether for the region, deSaussure said, with its sale Tuesday of $164.6 million of GO public improvement bonds to Wachovia Bank NA at a true interest cost of 3.59%.

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