End of Burlington Telecom morass helps boost city’s credit standing

Local News

Burlington’s credit standing is the highest it’s been in 10 years after a national ratings agency reported that the city’s reserves are high and it’s tax base is growing.

The report from Moody’s Investors Services on Monday boosted the city’s rating to Aa3, the highest since 2009, when it was revealed that city officials had improperly spent $17 million to prop up Burlington Telecom.

A few months later, Moody’s slashed the city’s credit rating to Aa2.

The return to the higher rating was good news for Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Earlier this year, Weinberger announced that the city had closed the sale of Burlington Telecom to Schurz Communications and settled a $33.5 million lawsuit over BT with CitiBank.

On Monday, Weinberger also took credit for what he called eight years of “disciplined” spending. “We didn’t cut services, we did not implement tax increases,” he said.

The bump in the credit rating comes at a good time. Weinberger said it will lock in savings of about $1 million on roughly $13 million in bonds that the city is planning to issue this fall.

A good piece of that debt will be used to rebuild Burlington High School. Clare Wool, chair of the Burlington School Board, said “the improved credit rating naturally will reduce the cost of borrowing and translate into real savings for Burlington taxpayers.”

Shireen Hart, Burlington Business Association president, said the rating hike could led to needed infrastructure improvements.

“City investments on new and improved roads and much needed storm and wastewater treatment for a cleaner lake will be more affordable,” Hart said.

The mayor hopes rating will attract new businesses and residents to the Queen City.

“Being a double-A’ city signals business owners and homeowners that we are a stable well managed city that will deliver the services that are neccesary for a high quality life,” he said.

While mostly positive the report did shed light on some of the continued challenges. They include a gap in affordable house and pension expenses.

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