HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - For the first time in two years, the City of Hattiesburg has a bond rating. Mayor Toby Barker and other city officials said Thursday that Moody’s Investors Service has reestablished the city’s bond rating at a “strong” Aa3.
That rating was withdrawn in late 2016 because the city had not turned in audits since fiscal year 2014.
The city has spent the last 17 months completing audits for fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The city’s audit firm presented the last of the audits to the city council last month. It is currently working on an audit for fiscal year 2018.
“This is the game changer that will allow for us to finance projects at a competitive rate, exemplify our commitment to financial success to other government agencies when applying for millions of dollars in grants and allowing us to firmly plant our feet on a level the citizens of Hattiesburg deserve,” said Barker.
Barker and other city officials met with analysts from Moody’s two weeks ago to try and get the bond rating restored. They found out Thursday morning that it had been reestablished.
“Today, Christmas has come early to the City of Hattiesburg,” Barker said at a news conference at city hall, announcing that the bond rating had been restored.
“As we prepare to go to the bond market to fund several capital projects, including the police station, municipal court building and fire station, we will go into that market with a Aa3 rating,” Barker said. “This will rank Hattiesburg among the top five cities in the State of Mississippi in terms of bond rating.”
Barker said while restoring the bond rating is significant, the city still has work to do in its financial recovery.
“In terms of budgeting practices, in terms of building our cash reserves, and as we do that, we hope to see this rating upgraded again as well,” said Barker.
Click here to see the full Moody’s Rating Opinion for the City of Hattiesburg.