Fitch Ratings, citing an improved local economy, upgraded Sarasota County’s bond rating from AA to AA+.
The county’s utility system revenue bond rating, according to a release, includes a “stable outlook” rating. The county’s economy, the release adds, is “experiencing a sustained recovery, with increases in building permit activity, a more substantial rise in sales tax collections, an uptick in housing prices and a decline in foreclosure activity.”
“The county is pleased with this upgrade from Fitch Ratings, which acknowledges the key strengths of the county’s utility system operation,” acting assistant county administrator and chief financial management officer Steve Botelho says in the release. “These strengths include a sustained trend of strong financial metrics, positive financial results and a strong debt coverage ratio, among other factors. In addition, Fitch recognizes the improvement in the local economy, including a reduced unemployment rate and an improving real estate market.”
Sarasota County has $189.8 million in outstanding utility system revenue bonds, the release states. The bonds are secured by a senior lien on net revenues and legally available impact fees that come from operating water and sewer systems. The county serves a customer base of roughly 82,000 water and 74,800 wastewater accounts.