WEST HAVEN, Jan. 25, 2024 — S&P Global on Wednesday, Jan. 24, raised its long-term credit rating to BBB+ from BBB on the city’s general obligation bonds while assigning a “positive” outlook, Mayor Dorinda Borer announced.
“The rating upgrade to ‘BBB+’ and positive outlook reflect the city’s strong financial performance in 2022 and anticipated for 2023, following the adoption of stricter financial management practices,” S&P said in its bond credit analysis. “The city continues to implement improvements to internal controls toward curing deficiencies that led to its current Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) Tier IV designation. Moreover, the city is no longer relying on municipal restructuring grants to balance its budget.”
Borer said the report is “extremely important and exciting news for our city for many reasons, including a long-term savings on the city’s borrowing, but also sends a message to potential investors that West Haven is on a strong road to recovery.”
“The investment that MARB has made in West Haven has paid off,” Borer said. “The MARB first hired an auditor and then a consultant who both identified weaknesses in the internal controls and financial structure, but the MARB then took it a step further and hired a consultant to assist the prior administration with addressing those weaknesses. Everyone worked together, past and current, which contributed toward the upgrade.”
In addition to the rating upgrade, the positive outlook designation is attributed to the new Borer administration, based on the work that has been completed in the past month and the plans for the path forward.
In its analysis, the New York agency touted the leadership of the new administration, which took office in early December.
“With a new management team, West Haven expects to continue its conservative budgeting practices, raising revenues and leveraging ongoing economic developments,” S&P said. “City administration expects to maintain structurally balanced operating results while continuing to rebuild reserves to stronger levels.”
In its report, S&P specifically provided positive feedback in recognizing an overall change, a new management team and changes in department structure, including the Building Department.
S&P also noted Borer’s revitalized work with a consortium of regional mayors, a more collaborative relationship with the MARB and a focus on personnel restructure, including grants and economic development.
Ronald M. Quagliani, the city’s newly elected treasurer who ran on Borer’s ticket, was thrilled at the announcement.
“This is welcome news,” Quagliani said. “I am appreciative of all the hard work that has been done by many to get us to this point. We are committed to build on this momentum by continuing the work and collaborations with our partners for ongoing improvement with tangible results.”