Moody’s assigns same rating to city


The city of Delaware’s bond credit rating with Moody’s Investors Service remained the same.

City officials met with the provider on April 7 to present their case to increase their rating from Aa2 to Aa1, which is a grade below the highest rating offered — Aaa. City officials have said a higher credit rating would make financing infrastructure and capital projects less expensive.

“We did not expect an upgrade on this first attempt, because these efforts often require multiple pitches to the rating agency, but felt it was worth the effort. In particular, because Moody’s was willing to send an analyst team to our City. This had never happened before,” city spokesman Lee Yoakum said in an email.

The city’s rating reflects the city’s moderately sized and growing tax base, its proximity to the expanding, Aaa-rated Columbus metropolitan area, and sound financial operations supported by prudent management and robust income tax growth, according to Moody’s rationale. But it also represents these strengths balanced against the city’s heightened debt and pension burdens.

“Our challenge is our socioeconomic profile, or the birds-eye-view of a community that helps determine sustainable development. Our Midwest location in a so-called “rust belt” state works against us. In addition, we also rely heavily on economically sensitive income tax revenues to fund operations (80.3 percent of operating revenues in fiscal 2015),” Yoakum said.

The city produced a $4,900 video, available on its website, that included drone-captured footage of the city from Powell-based Infinite Impact. The video will be used in various ways including marketing and economic development efforts.

“To be able to not only tell our story but ‘show’ our story, was an opportunity we did not want to miss out on,” Yoakum said.

“We highlighted during our meeting with the panel that tax revenue is increasing, and our median household income of $64,233 is higher than the state and national average. Also, we are seeing a historically ‘blue collar’ workforce transitioning to a 61 percent ‘white collar’ labor force,” he added.

The city of Delaware approved about 300 residential permits in 2016, including more than 200 for single-family units. Last year’s permits were the highest level for the city since 2005, which had 258. Based on building permits only, the city had a population of about 38,863 in 2016, representing 20 percent growth over a decade and 12 percent since 2010.

By Brandon Klein

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Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

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