Utility bond rating retains strong marks

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Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has affirmed its strong “AA-” long-term and underlying credit rating of the city of Vancouver utility’s water and sewer revenue bonds, the city said in a bulletin Thursday.

“The very strong credit rating and outlook indicates to bond investors that the city’s utility water and sewer financial obligations are stable and being managed well for the future,” said Lloyd Tyler, Vancouver chief financial officer.

The bonds are backed by the net revenues of the city’s water, sewer, and stormwater collection systems.

The city’s utility received the S&P service’s AA- rating in 1992, 1993, 1999 and 2004.

According to a report by S&P Ratings Services, the stable outlook is based on an anticipation that the city’s water, sewer and stormwater rates will continue to be set at levels needed to maintain that balance. The report notes that the city has no additional debt plans.

“While we are proud of this strong rating, we anticipate paying for future capital needs on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than relying on bonded debt,” said Brian Carlson, public works director. “We are committed to managing our system needs and revenues to ensure we continue to efficiently and effectively provide the high-quality water, sewer and stormwater services that our community relies on 24/7.”

The city of Vancouver is the fourth-largest provider of drinking water in the state of Washington, serving 8.5 billion gallons to more than 200,000 people within the city and a portion of the unincorporated area in 2010. Vancouver also provides sewer service to an estimated 192,000 residents across a 55-square-mile area, with two wastewater treatment facilities that have been recognized for their environmental excellence.

The S&P rating is not considered investment or financial advice. It does not represent an audit.