Ridgefield checks credit ahead of sports complex loan

Bond, fees, taxes to pay for $20 million facility

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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The city of Ridgefield applied for its first-ever credit rating while gearing up for a bond issuance that will pay for the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

Ridgefield received a rating of AA with a stable outlook from Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings, according to a release from the city.

As a result of the credit rating, city officials expect to realize lower interest rates, which could result in cost savings to taxpayers.

The Standard and Poor’s report stated that Ridgefield’s proximity to Portland and Vancouver, as well as the city’s development as a base for employment with existing and anticipated commercial and distribution-based employers, helped the city receive the AA rating, the third-highest available. The report also praised Ridgefield’s management team and financial policies and practices, such as long-range planning, three-year trend analysis for budget forecasting, cost allocation models, investment and debt management policies and reserve policies.

“The high credit rating is a result of council and staff working together to build a strong financial foundation for the City. We are proud that our long-term planning and financial policies have been recognized and have put us in a position for continued success into the future,” Kirk Johnson, finance director for the city, said in a release.

2018 opening planned

The sports complex is a joint project between the city and Ridgefield School District. It will be across Northwest Hillhurst Road from Ridgefield High School and adjacent to a new 5-8 campus, which is currently being constructed.

The complex is expected to cost somewhere around $20 million, which will be paid for by the city with a combination of park impact fees, real estate excise tax, grants, sponsorships and a $10 million “councilmanic” bond the city will issue later this year. A councilmanic bond is one issued by city councilors. It is not voted on by residents and doesn’t raise property taxes.

The complex will have six multipurpose turf sports fields, a track around the football field, trails throughout the complex, picnic tables and an amphitheater. The complex will also have a community center where groups can meet.

The city hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the complex on Aug. 31. Construction is expected to take a year, with the complex scheduled to open for the start of the 2018 school year, along with the new 5-8 campus.