Moody’s upgrades St. Johns County’s issuer and bond ratings
AUGUSTINE, Fla., Sept. 22, 2021 — Citing St. Johns County’s very large and growing tax base, strong wealth and income levels and healthy financial position, Moody’s Investor Services has upgraded St. Johns County’s issuer, non-ad valorem revenue and sales tax bonds ratings, announced Board of County Commission Chairman Jeremiah Blocker and Clerk and Comptroller Brandon J. Patty today.
“These bond upgrades from Moody’s signal a continued confidence in St. Johns County’s strong economic base and long-term growth,” Chairman Blocker said. “Effective fiscal management is a team effort, and these rating upgrades demonstrate our commitment to ensuring St. Johns County moves forward on a positive financial course for our residents, businesses and industries.”
“The upgraded ratings reflect St. Johns County’s position as a growing economic powerhouse in the region and the state of Florida,” Clerk Patty said. “The triple A rating in particular is a reflection of the county’s good financial stewardship in building reserves and strengthening fiscal management.”
The New York-based rating agency announced Sept. 21 it has upgraded St. Johns County’s issuer rating to Aaa from Aa1. Obligations rated Aaa are judged to be of the highest quality and subject to the lowest level of credit risk.
“The Aaa issuer rating reflects the county’s very large and growing tax base, strong wealth and income levels, very healthy financial position, relatively low long-term liabilities and below average annual fixed costs,” Moody’s said in its rating action. “The county’s coastal location exposes it to perennial physical climate risks such as hurricanes; however, these risks are partially mitigated by the county’s exceptionally strong financial position and a history of state and federal support in the wake of natural disasters.”
Concurrently, Moody’s upgraded the county’s non-ad valorem revenue bond rating to Aa1 from Aa2 and its sales tax revenue bond rating to Aa3 from A1. Despite impacts to travel and business activity from the pandemic, debt service coverage remained strong, and half-cent sales tax revenues reached record highs in fiscal year 2021.
Moody’s also affirmed the Aa3 ratings on the county’s transportation improvement revenue bonds and capital improvement revenue bonds.
The report gives St. Johns County a stable financial outlook due to Moody’s expectation that ongoing economic development and population growth will continue to support the county’s revenue base and financial metrics.
The county has approximately $48.9 million of sales tax revenue bonds, $24.6 million of transportation improvement revenue bonds, $73.2 million of non-ad valorem revenue bonds, and $12.3 million of capital improvement revenue bonds outstanding.
About the St. Johns County Clerk of Circuit Court and County Comptroller
The Florida Constitution established the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller function in 1838 to create a system of checks and balances at the county level. In St. Johns County, the clerk is Clerk of the Circuit Court and also serves as the County Treasurer, Recorder, Auditor, Finance Officer and Ex-Officio Clerk of the County Commission.