City earns good bond rating: official

JOHNSTOWN – City Treasurer Michael Gifford told the Common Council Tuesday night that the city has a AA- Standard & Poor’s bond rating, which is excellent for the small city.

Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC is an American financial services company. It is a division of McGraw Hill Financial that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds.

During monthly city official reports given at City Hall, Gifford said the city’s bond rating analysis by S&P done last month showed Johnstown received a AA- rating, which he said is a “very good” rating.

“That’s good news,” added Mayor Michael Julius.

According to S&P’s website, a AA rating shows that the city has a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments” long-term. A credit rating is Standard & Poor’s opinion on the general creditworthiness of an obligor, or the creditworthiness of an obligor with respect to a particular debt security or other financial obligation, the website says.

Even though Gifford’s news was good, he noted the city still exists in an area that is lagging economically.

“We have a very weak economy in this area,” the city treasurer said.

Gifford said there is a low per capita income for this area and S&P wanted to know if Johnstown could be considered urban or rural, finally deeming the city “pretty rural.”

“They complimented us for our management,” Gifford said.

He said S&P liked the fact that the city’s fund balance has been “stable” and the city is being cautious about its debt.

“For a small city, we have a lot of debt,” Gifford said.

He said much of the city’s debt comes from bonding involving projects through the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility.

He said S&P also rated its Bond Anticipation Note situation, for which it “did very well.”

Gifford said the S&P representative working with the city was glad the city was currently involved in a property revaluation, which he said shows good management. He said the revaluation doesn’t help the bond rating, but is part of a bigger picture.

“No single act makes or breaks a rating,” Gifford said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.