Pair of Leading Credit Agencies Signal Warning on Hartford Finances - NBC Connecticut

Pair of Leading Credit Agencies Signal Warning on Hartford Finances

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    More bad financial news for the city of Hartford.

    Late Monday afternoon, the credit rating firm Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook for dozens of city bonds from "stable" to "negative."

    Standard & Poor's said the city has a “sizeable gap in its long term budget projections” for the next six months to two years, and if that continues, it may drop the city’s bond rating.

    S&P cited the city's “diminished flexibility” following a sizeable drawdown of its rainy day fund in the current fiscal year.

    Currently, the city’s bonds still have a solid "AA-" rating, and S&P points out that Hartford does not plan to used any rainy day funds to balance next year’s budget.

    Maribel La Luz, spokeswoman for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, released a statement addressing the AA- bond rating but failing to acknowledge S&P's lower bond outlook.

    "Today, Standard & Poor's reaffirmed the City of Hartford’s Double AA- Bond Rating on its general obligation (GO) bonds citing adequate economy, strong cash levels and strong management with good financial policies," La Luz said in the statement late Monday afternoon. "The strong investment-grade bond rating allows the City to continue to borrow money at aggressive interest rates. Bonding is used for important capital improvement projects such as school infrastructure upgrades, streetscapes, park and sidewalk restoration."

    The move by S&P comes less than a week after another agency, Moody’s Investors Service, lowered the city’s bond rating, citing many of the same issues.

    "As I stated last week, perspective matters," Segarra said in a statement Monday. "Two rating agencies have slightly varying opinions but they agree on one important fact; the City of Hartford’s bond ratings are a quality investment-grade. That’s due in part to our strong management and Hartford’s growth over the last four years. We’ll continue to be diligent in trying to identify new sources of revenue, improve our infrastructure, and mitigate further burden on our taxpayers so we can further advance the growth of our the capital city.”

    Treasurer Adam Cloud said the city is working to "[maintain] a strong fund balance" and "focus on eliminating long term budget deficits."

    "The Treasurer’s office will continue to support both the administration and the Court of Common Council in their efforts to achieve these goals," Cloud said in a statement.

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