Falls Church Lands Its 1st-Ever Triple Triple From Wall Street Bond Raters

THE FALLS CHURCH EMPLOYEE of the Year was recognized at Monday’s F.C. City Council meeting. Elizabeth Acosta (holding the plaque) was this year’s recipient. She is shown flanked by members of the Council and City staff. (Photo: News-Press)

Monday, the City of Falls Church learned it’s received a AAA bond rating from Moody’s Investors Service and reaffirmed AAA bond ratings from Fitch Credit Ratings and S&P’s Global Ratings. According to F.C. City Manager Wyatt Shields, these are the highest ratings available and signify, he said, “that all three agencies consider the City to have exceptional credit-worthiness and can meet its financial obligations as it prepares to issue significant new debt $147 million through Fiscal Year 2020.”

Shields, F.C. Mayor David Tarter and Chief Financial Officer Kiran Bawa traveled to Wall Street to make the City’s case to the three ratings agencies on April 30, in advance of the City’s intent to market a first wave of capital improvement-related bonds totaling $24.2 million on May 25, with a closing on June 6.

So, the bond ratings will apply to that sale to fund the City Hall Public Safety Project, design for the High School Campus Project, and a number of other capital projects, and will assure the City will be charged the lowest interest rate for those bonds. It will not be known for sure how much the City will save until after the closing of the upcoming sale June 6, Bawa told the City Council Monday.

Shields, Tarter and Bawa were all on hand to break the good news to the Council.

Next year, the City intends to issue additional debt for the construction of a new George Mason High School, and for the renovation and expansion of the Mary Riley Styles Library. In total, the City Capital Improvements Program includes $147 Million in investments in City and school facilities in the next three years.

“Our top-notch bond ratings are a reflection of the City’s sound financial management,” said  Tarter. “This could not be accomplished without leadership from City Council and staff and community support for prudent and well-defined financial policies and a prioritization of City goals and investments. Having the highest bond ratings will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in lower interest and borrowing costs for the new high school and other capital needs.”

He cited “a very strong economy, prudent financial management, and budgetary flexibility as a few of the reasons for the ratings.

According to Shields, the reports put the City of Falls Church in an elite group of Virginia localities with the highest ratings possible, and is the first time in the history of the City that it has received this level of ratings.