Moody’s Affirms Woonsocket Investment Grade Bond Rating
and Stable Outlook Despite COVID-19 Uncertainties
WOONSOCKET, R.I.: Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt announced today that Moody’s Investor Service in its annual comment on the City of Woonsocket has maintained the City’s General Obligation Bond Rating at an Investment Grade level and has kept the City’s outlook as “Stable”. The Moody’s report indicated that they maintained the investment grade rating and stable outlook because they did not see immediate material credit risks for the City. They did acknowledge that a “rapidly evolving” COVID-19 situation can have “substantial implications” on municipal governments throughout the country during 2021.
The Mayor stated, “I am pleased that Moody’s has once again recognized our efforts in bringing fiscal stability and economic growth to Woonsocket and has kept us at an investment grade bond rating despite the many hurdles local governments continue to face from the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Mayor explained, “We kept our investment grade bond rating in this environment because we have developed strong financial and operational structures that were capable of meeting the unexpected challenges from the pandemic that are being imposed upon us on a daily basis.” The Mayor added,“Maintaining our bond rating is an acknowledgement to our having operated the City with disciplined fiscal policies and to the commitment and hard work from our municipal workers.”
Although the City has investment grade bond ratings from both Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Service, Mayor Baldelli-Hunt repeated her administration’s long- standing commitment for the City not to issue any new general obligation debt. Instead, the Mayor pointed to the City having eliminated over $60 million of debt since 2013. The Mayor emphasized “Our investment-grade bond ratings are promotional tools that broadly signal that we are a stable and well-managed community. I recognize the importance of not creating new General Obligation debt because I saw how the City’s prior large bond issuances came back to haunt us with extraordinarily high debt payments and bond ratings that were at junk levels.”
The Mayor further explained, “Our higher bond ratings and tighter budgetary and operational municipal structures have helped us attract new residents and businesses to our City. As an example, since 2014 we have built 127 new homes across Woonsocket. Additionally, with the help of tax stabilization agreements and other programs we have generated significant private sector business investments that help to build our tax base and lower our property tax rates for our taxpayers.” The Mayor concluded, “We need to be able to build upon our business growth and progress in economic developmentand to be open to new opportunities that present themselves.”