, Salem, MA


December 13, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for recent newsmakers

CHEERS to the news that the city of Salem’s bond rating continues to improve.

Earlier this week, Standard and Poor’s raised the long-term and underlying ratings of Salem’s general obligation bonds from A+ to AA, the second-highest rating the agency gives out.

The better credit rating means the city will be able to get better interest rates on its borrowing, saving money down the road on debt service payments and easing the burden on taxpayers.

The rating upgrade is a sign those outside the city are taking Salem’s progress seriously.

In announcing the upgrade, Standard and Poors cited several projects, including the proposed Footprint power plant and the second phase of construction on Salem Wharf, which is said “should cater to the local economy.” The agency also made note of the fact that the city closed fiscal 2013 with healthy reserves and a general fund balance of $12.7 million, up about $2.1 million from 2012.

The city’s recent financial performance has been positive, the report said, despite “budgeting challenges.”

“We believe this has been the result of stronger financial management practices and conservative budgeting,” the agency said in its report.

JEERS to the arrival of a new invasive species in Essex County. State environmental officials announced earlier this month that the Emerald Ash Borer beetle has been found in North Andover.

It’s just the second time the beetle has been found in Massachusetts, and the first time in the eastern half of the state. The tiny green beetles, which are native to Asia, feed on ash trees, killing them within three to five years. They have felled millions of trees and caused billions of dollars in economic damage since first being spotted in the Detroit area in 2002.

“A good percentage of our northern forests are made up of ash,” North Andover Conservation Administrator Jennifer Hughes told our sister paper, The Eagle-Tribune. “Those trees, once infested, have a short lifespan.”

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