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City’s strong credit rating reaffirmed
Standard & Poor’s “Ratings Direct” February report provided good news to the City of Joplin by reaffirming an AA- rating in its credit rating from S&P, indicating a stable economic environment for the City. This report comes approximately nine months from the historic May 22, 2011 disaster.

A municipal credit rating is a current opinion of a municipality’s overall financial capacity to pay its financial obligations based upon relevant risk factors. Credit ratings are widely accepted by investors as efficient tools for differentiating creditworthiness.

According to S&P, the AA- credit rating for the City of Joplin reflects the city’s role as a regional retail and service hub; its strong tax base growth; conservative fiscal policies that have resulted in a solid financial position; and low debt levels. Ratings range from AAA to C with their definitions expressed in terms of default risk.

“This rating score is good news as it exemplifies the work of the City,” said City Manager Mark Rohr. “City staff works to maximize our resources while keeping expenditures low in order to provide quality services for our citizens. This report indicates the City’s fiscal responsibility with its resources, while at the same time completing major projects within the City to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Recent completed projects include wastewater treatment plant renovations, downtown renovation, an athletic complex, a railroad underpass on a major north-south corridor, as well as other improvements to many Joplin roadways and troublesome drainage ditches in the stormwater system.

In the S & P Report, Joplin is recognized for historically maintaining balanced financial operations and very strong reserves. The City is also commended for its operations since the tornado by working closely with the State of Missouri, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other groups so as not to incur significant out-of-pocket costs in its rebuilding efforts.

In summary, S&P noted that Joplin has very strong reserves. The City’s regional economy provides a stable outlook due to the retail base attracting local spending and the ongoing rebuilding efforts; both contributing to steady sales tax revenues.

“This rating from Standard and Poor reinforces the work of the City staff. In their review, they evaluate numerous areas, including fiscal history, economic factors, and other issues in determining the financial condition of a city,” said Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston. “After a thorough review, they have determined that Joplin has a solid financial position. That is a strong commendation, especially after the year we’ve been working through to help our citizens.”

Four established areas of credit are generally included in the rating analysis. These include economic, debt, administrative and fiscal factors. S&P recognizes that assessing creditworthiness is more complex than just evaluating financial statements, so it studies socioeconomic issues as well, including income levels and job creation to determine if the borrower can service or repay its debt. Also reviewed are the changing trends in the economy, marketplace and in demographics. Quality of life issues, although harder to quantify, are considered during this process as well.