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Moody’s boosts credit rating for North Las Vegas

Updated June 20, 2019 - 5:51 pm

North Las Vegas marked its ongoing economic climb late Wednesday with another credit rating boost.

Moody’s Investors Service announced Thursday that it upgraded the rating two notches from Baa1 to A2. The new rating is considered upper-medium grade, the company said.

It is a sign of stability in North Las Vegas, which had spent years rising from junk bond status. Higher ratings tend to mean lower interest payments on bonds.

“Today, to be back up in the A category is stunning,” Mayor John Lee said.

Moody’s expects the city’s new credit rating to remain the same for the next one to two years.

Chief Financial Officer Darren Adair said the rating is related to the city’s effort to refinance wastewater bonds. On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously approved refinancing the bonds to save what officials estimate to be about $460,000 per year over the next 17 years.

The new rating does not necessarily make much of a financial impact beyond the savings from Wednesday’s approved refinancing, but it shows the financial community that the city is trustworthy, Adair said. Maintaining the rating will make it easier and more affordable for North Las Vegas to get financing in the future, he said.

Moody’s said it expects the local economy and tax base to grow, and that the city will be able to keep up with that growth financially.

North Las Vegas’ credit rating fell 10 notches between 2011 and 2014, but began rising in 2015, Moody’s spokesman David Jacobson said. The rating has come up seven notches, he said.

“Off the top of my head, I can’t recall a city going through this many upgrades in that amount of time,” he said.

In August, Moody’s upgraded the city’s rating two notches to Baa1 in what City Manager Ryann Juden called one of North Las Vegas’ “crowning moments.” In October, the credit boost helped North Las Vegas sell general obligation bonds to save more than $40 million in interest payments over the following 18 years.

In a statement on Thursday, Juden credited a collaborative effort in the city’s sustainable growth from the recession.

“Certainly, there is more work to be done, but the confidence of Wall Street and surging interest from investors is a clear indication that what we’re doing to transform North Las Vegas into an economic powerhouse is working,” he said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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