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November 21. 2012 12:09AM

Manchester bond rating stays same

MANCHESTER - One of the major bond rating services said the city's credit rating is stable, driven by new labor agreements that cut health insurance costs.

But the report from Fitch Ratings of New York finds the city's property tax cap has a "neutral" impact on the city's creditworthiness.

The report gave the city an AA+ rating on $122 million on bonds for general city purposes - no change from the previous rating. The credit rating for $34 million in school facilities borrowing is rated slightly below that, at AA.

A credit rating of AA is defined as "very high credit quality."

Fitch said that Manchester's credit outlook is stable, and notes that the city has taken in more money than it has spent in recent years.

The rating service said the "city's success in negotiating changes to its health care coverage plan produced a significant $3.5 million reduction in cost in fiscal 2013."

In declaring that the city tax cap is "neutral" as far as the credit rating goes, Fitch said it will "likely create difficult spending decisions" in the future.

The agency also noted the city has the ability to raise money from non-tax resources.

Fitch said the most obvious source of additional revenue would be "in the area of sanitation and refuse," but no Manchester political figure has shown an appetite for hitting residents with a pay-per-throw or any other trash disposal fee.

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Bill Smith may be reached at wsmith@unionleader.com.


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