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City of Santa Clarita gets AAA credit rating

September 7, 2012 |  2:49 pm

At a time when many California cities are facing major fiscal shortfalls, and even bankruptcy, Santa Clarita’s credit rating has been upgraded to AAA, which is the highest score a municipality can receive, city officials announced Friday.

Standard & Poors, a financial services and credit rating company, defines AAA status as proof that a city is highly capable of meeting its financial commitments.

City officials said this is the third time in five years that Santa Clarita had received an upgrade, and that Standard & Poors bases it upgrades on factors such as “strong availability of general fund reserves, a stable economic base, long-term fiscal performance, a balanced budget and sound fiscal practice.”

Fully supported future obligations, such as Santa Clarita’s retiree health care program, which is 100% funded, also helped the city snag the AAA rating, officials said.

“We set a conservative fiscal plan 25 years ago when the city was established,” Ken Pulskamp, Santa Clarita’s city manager said in written remarks. “This is the result of 25 years of continuity in that approach to budgeting and financial management.”

In recent months, San Bernardino, the Central Valley city of Stockton and Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra Nevada became the latest California cities to seek bankruptcy protection this year.

In a statement, Matt Fabian, a municipal credit expert and managing director of Municipal Market Advisors, an independent research firm in Westport, Conn., described Santa Clarita’s success as “an exceptionally strong testimonial to the city's economic resilience and management sophistication.”

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-- Ann M. Simmons in Santa Clarita

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