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Moody's upgrades county rating ADVERTISEMENT

Moody's upgrades county rating

YATES COUNTY--Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the Yates County general obligation unlimited tax rating (GOLT) and issued ratings to "Aa3" from "A1." The upgrade affects the county's $2.6 million outstanding GOLT debt, all of which is rated by Moody's.
Moody's service states the upgrade to Aa3 reflects the county's strong reserves and liquidity and low fixed costs and long-term liabilities. It also reflects the county's growing tax base, average resident wealth and incomes, limited local economy and derivation of a significant portion of county revenue from economically sensitive sales tax.
Moody's uses nine different ratings. The highest quality rating is an "Aaa" and the lowest rating is a "C." The investor service also appends numerical modifiers 1, 2, and 3 to each generic rating classification from "Aa" through "Caa." The modifier 1 indicates that the obligation ranks in the higher end of its generic rating category; the modifier 2 indicates a mid-range ranking; and the modifier 3 indicates a ranking in the lower end of that generic rating category. Additionally, a "(hyb)" indicator is appended to all ratings of hybrid securities issued by banks, insurers, finance companies and securities firms.
In their detailed report Moody's also provided this financial commentary for Yates County.
Economy and tax base
Yates County's $2.6 billion tax base is stable and will likely remain so. The county's taxable full value has grown 25.6 percent since 2009, driven by modestly improving home values and limited residential development within the tax base. Located in the Finger Lakes region, the tax base value is supported by a high proportion of seasonal homes. Vacation homes comprise about a fourth of all housing units in the county. Commercial development in the region is fairly limited; while significant development is unlikely to increase the county's tax base value, the county is not exposed to concentrations in its tax base or among employers.
Financial operations and reserves
Yates County's strong financial position will likely remain stable given its ample reserves and history of conservative budgeting. Fiscal 2018 marked the county's fifth consecutive general fund surplus, and the third consecutive operating surplus in excess of $3 million, a significant amount in the context of the county's operating budget of approximately $33 million. The county closed fiscal 2018 with $21.4 million in available fund balance representing a very strong 57.5 percent of revenue.
The county is projecting another strong financial performance in 2019, expecting an additional $1 million in unassigned fund balance. While the county's future capital needs are preliminary, management expects to draw on reserves to fund future projects, including improvements to broadband infrastructure and communication needs and highway and jail buildings. Given the scope and undetermined timeline for these projects, there is no anticipated near-term impact on the county's reserves.
Yates County Treasurer and Acting County Administrator Nonie Flynn said historically the county was rated an "A3" in 2002 and in 2010 the investor service rating was "A1."

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