For the 11th consecutive year, Huntsville has received the highest possible “AAA” credit ratings from the two major credit rating agencies Standard & Poors and Moody’s Investors Services.
The agencies cited several factors as the driving force behind the ratings including financial stability, a strong regional tax base, substantial reserve funds, and Huntsville’s strong economy as a steady economic engine for all North Alabama.
Out of 22,250 U.S. cities and counties, less than 1 percent receive this top rating.
“The city has also been reinvesting in its community with deliberate and effective urban planning and design efforts. With a combination of pay-as-you-go financing from excess revenues, tax increment revenues and debt proceeds, the city has been able to undertake multiple projects,” S&P said in a statement.
“The tremendous growth in Huntsville, our ability to work together strategically, efficiently and collaboratively has made this success possible,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “We’ll use these high credit marks to borrow money at exceptionally low interest rates to fund projects in the city’s capital improvement plan.”
Budgetary management and a low debt-to-citizen/debt-to-GDP ratio also played a large role, the reports said. The ratings give Huntsville a lot of financial leverage including the ability to borrow close to $85 million for city and countywide projects.
Among them is $25 million to complete the Greenbrier Parkway in rural Limestone County, which was annexed to Huntsville as part of the infrastructure needed to support the Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing USA auto plant.
Another $50 million has been earmarked for capital building and improvement projects at John Hunt, Merrimack, and Brahan Spring Parks; for recreation centers; libraries; greenways; and a public safety training center and police firing range. An additional $10 million has been put aside for downtown parking garages.