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Posted on: February 5, 2020

S&P Raises Norfolk’s Credit Rating to AAA

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NORFOLK, VA – For the first time in its history, Norfolk has received the highest possible credit rating.  Today, Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (“S&P”) raised Norfolk’s credit rating to AAA on its long-term General Obligation Bonds.  This upgrade makes Norfolk one of just 16 municipalities in Virginia with this highest credit rating from S&P. 

S&P highlighted that the higher rating reflects Norfolk’s “strong economy,” its “very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices” and “very strong budgetary flexibility, strong budgetary performance, as well as very strong liquidity.”  S&P noted that the City’s proactive management of its environmental, social, and governance risks are integrated in Norfolk practices and long-term planning.  S&P applauded the City’s resiliency efforts to address sustainability, climate change and sea level risk in its long-term financial and capital planning efforts and its development regulations, while leveraging its strategic location and importance.  S&P further noted the City has committed to improving the economic power of its residents through several different programs, which over time may bolster economic metrics. S&P particularly highlighted the City’s work towards redeveloping the St. Paul’s neighborhood and transitioning current low-income housing to mixed-income housing.  S&P did note Norfolk’s weak, but manageable debt and contingent liability profile and the slight expansion of the City’s debt metrics.

This AAA rating affirms the City’s financial strength.  Perhaps more importantly, the upgrade reflects the accomplishments the City Council and management have made over the years to strengthen the City’s financial position.  The rating also reflects the strategic capital and economic development investments in the community that have continued to pay dividends.  This highest credit rating will assist the City in maintaining low cost of funds to finance strategic capital projects throughout the City.

Mayor’s remarks:

Today, Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings recognized Norfolk’s strong fiscal management, commitment to economic and environmental resilience, and efficient delivery of services by elevating the rating of our long-term General Obligation Bonds to AAA.

This upgrade is a historic moment for Norfolk. For the first time in our history, we have received the highest possible credit rating from S&P. Our city joins just 16 of Virginia’s municipalities that have earned S&P’s highest credit rating and is the most fiscally stressed municipality to earn this important designation. The continued commitment of our staff to long term planning and the successful management of our city remains valued and appreciated.

Our city has the added responsibility of maintaining infrastructure and amenities that are utilized and enjoyed by the region and global partners. Although Norfolk maintains critical responsibilities as a center for global trade, international security, higher education, health care, transportation and culture; our first priority as America’s premier waterfront community is to provide valuable public goods and excellent public service to our residents.

We are grateful that S&P, who also determines the creditworthiness of companies, states, and countries, has judged Norfolk as economically sound and an excellent investment.

I want to thank Council, the Administration, especially our departments of Finance and Budget and their leadership, and most important our residents who trust us, as Norfolk’s chief fiduciaries and have waited patiently for this historic moment.

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