Bond rating agencies give Milford high scores

The City of Milford has received positive feedback on its financial management and affirmation of high rankings from the three premier rating agencies, city officials announced last week.

Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service, and Standard & Poor's Rating Services described Milford's finances as stable, prudent and healthy, Mayor Benjamin G. Blake reported Tuesday.

The ratings are similar to those issued in previous years.

“We will continue to make conservative, prudent, common sense fiscal management our number one priority,” Blake said. “But we will not rest — the city will look to continually improve every day.”

Fitch rated Milford's general obligation bonds AA+, noting that “Management's conservative budget practices and prudent debt policies provide for financial stability” in Milford.

The agency cited several key factors supporting the high rating, according to city officials: Sound financial management, strong and stable reserves, moderate debt levels, well-funded retiree costs, and a history of successful access to the municipal bond market.

Fitch also commended the city for its ongoing commitment to mitigate its other post employment benefit liability with its $3.7 million OPEB trust.

Similarly, Moody's affirmed the city's Aa1 rating, noting that it reflects the city's “stable financial position with adequate reserves, and manageable debt profile. Moody's noted that over the last six years, Milford has maintained an adequate total general fund balance, averaging 10.6% of revenues and ending at 10.9% of revenues for fiscal year 2012.

Standard & Poor's assigned its AA+ long-term rating to Milford's general obligation bonds with a stable outlook. The ratings agency confirmed many reasons for the strong rating including: “Adequate budgetary performance, very strong liquidity, adequate management environment, standard financial policies, and a very strong debt and contingent liabilities position.”