Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling says not to worry about Metro's finances, despite news yesterday that Moody's Investor Services had downgraded the city's credit due to an "above average debt burden."
In a letter to the Metro Council, Riebeling says the decision was disappointing, but expected due to Moody's new rating methodology.
"I would point out that Nashville's bond rating is now exactly where it stood when Mayor Dean took office in 2007 as the rating was upgraded in April 2010 when Moody's undertook a ratings methodology analysis," he says. "I would strongly suggest that Nashville is in the same, if not better, financial condition today than it was in 2010 when the ratings upgrade occurred."
In the coming fiscal year, Metro expects to pay a little more than $209 million in debt service, around $20 million more than the $189 million it paid this year. The growing percentage of Metro's annual budget that goes to paying off $2.3 billion in General Obligation debt is concerning to some on the council, but Riebeling has maintained that the city's is in good shape, noting, for instance, that debt service payments accounted for a lower percentage of the budget this year than it did when the year Dean took office. Until now, he had also routinely cited the city's credit rating.
Read his whole letter to the council here, in PDF form.