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Moodys: Columbia finances steadily improving

Aug 11, 2011 7:40:00 PM - thestate.com
Columbia’s financial status has improved enough that Moody’s bond rating service does not consider the city among 160 local governments around the nation that are facing a possible ratings downgrade, the capital city’s chief financial adviser said.

In the wake of the national debt ceiling scare, Moody’s Investors Service culled the 440 counties, municipalities and school districts it rates and found 160 were vulnerable because they rely heavily on federal funds, said Brent Robertson, who has been Columbia’s top financial adviser for 14 years.

“The city of Columbia is not caught up in that mess,” Robertson said earlier this week.

The rating service’s choice to keep Columbia off the list of 160 is “a huge, huge benefit,” Robertson said. It sends a message to investors that the city is credit worthy, and it makes Columbia more likely to get a lower interest rate on future loans, he said.

Moody’s staffers made the decision after reviewing city financial records about two weeks ago in advance of a $6 million general obligation bond issue the city is scheduled to make later this month to buy police vehicles and heavy trucks, Robertson said. Moody’s analysts found the city relies less on federal money than the 160 county or municipal governments and school systems that are on the watch list, he said.

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