I got this note from Lower Merion Township today:
Moody's Investors Service and Standard and Poor's have both reconfirmed Lower Merion Township's Triple A Bond Credit Rating, which is the highest rating attainable. Should municipal bond market conditions remain favorable, the Township plans to hold a competitive bond sale on April 4th to refinance approximately $12.1 million of its current outstanding bonds at overall lower interest rates. Potential budgetary debt savings are estimated at approximately $600,000.
Standard and Poor's assessment noted strong financial management, which has led to the maintenance of what the rating agency regards as "strong finances and very strong reserves." The rating agency called Lower Merion's financial management practices "strong" under its Financial Management Assessment methodology, indicating practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.
"Confirmation from both Moody's and Standard and Poor's that once again the Township's financial position attained the strongest of ratings is excellent news," said Dean Dortone, Chief Financial Officer. "As a result, we anticipate that many financial institutions will respond to our bond sale with very competitive interest rates."
Dortone coordinated presentations by Township financial advisor Public Financial Management (PFM), which included conference calls with Moody's and Standard and Poor's (S & P). "In awarding the Triple A, the rating agencies cited Township's deep and diverse property tax base, reflected in extremely strong per capita market values, strong financial management and moderate debt levels as a percent of market value," remarked Doug Cleland, Township Manager.
"Year after year, Lower Merion receives this very exclusive rating, and it is a credit to the day in and day out professionalism of the financial leadership of our Township," stated Board Vice-President Paul McElhaney, Chair of the Finance Committee.
Lower Merion Township is the only municipality in Pennsylvania and one of only five Townships in the United States with a Triple A credit rating from both of the largest rating agencies. Only Princeton Township, Bernards Township and Mendham Township in New Jersey and Bloomfield Township in Michigan share this distinction with Lower Merion. "Our healthy reserve levels, combined with the excellent management of the Township's finances and capital improvement program cannot be underestimated," added Board President Elizabeth Rogan.
Not just a noteworthy distinction, Township's double Triple A status allows it to borrow at the lowest possible interest rates the market will bear, translating to tangible savings for the Township.
I'm not a financial whiz, so I'm not sure if this is as good as it sounds, or the AAA designation from Standard and Poor is just a rubber stamp. I'd love to hear from folks who know this stuff better than I do.