Standard & Poor’s cut its underlying rating on Rohnert Park’s sewer revenue bonds to A-minus from A and revised the outlook on the debt to negative after the Sonoma County city’s voters rolled back their sewer rates.
In November, voters reduced their sewer rates to Jan. 1, 2006, levels, resulting in a loss of $3.7 million, or one-third of operating revenue, from the municipal utility’s budget.
“The lowered rating and negative outlook reflect our opinion of the challenges associated with restoring rates to where they were prior to the rollback, and what we consider a clear resistance among ratepayers to such increases,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Ian Carroll said in a news release.
The sewer system’s credit is likely to be downgraded further if it can’t raise more revenues, he said. He added that the system’s $8 million of cash reserves would help cover the decrease in revenue only through the end of fiscal 2010.
Rohnert Park is located 45 miles north of San Francisco. The sewer enterprise is largely residential, with 8,800 residential customers.