By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — The city’s credit rating has been upgraded to its highest level in history.
The long-term and underlying ratings for Salem’s general obligation bonds were raised from A+ to AA in a report released this week by Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services. AA is the second-highest rating that Standard and Poor’s gives out.
The higher credit rating means the city will be able to get better interest rates, saving money on debt service payments.
Mayor Kim Driscoll said in a press release that the upgrade was “welcome news.”
“Over the last several years we have made a conscious effort to get our fiscal house in order and to keep it that way,” she said. “This upgrade is yet another sign that Salem is on the right track.”
The report cited projects including the proposed Footprint power plant and Phase 2 construction of the Salem Wharf, which it said “should cater to the local economy.” And it praised Salem for closing fiscal 2013 with available reserves at 10 percent of expenditures, and a general fund balance of $12.7 million, up approximately $2.1 million from the year before.
The report noted that the city’s financial performance over the past several years has been positive, despite “budgeting challenges.”
“We believe this has been the result of stronger financial management practices and conservative budgeting,” read the report.
Neil Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.