On January 5, 2023, S&P Global Ratings issued a credit report which affirmed its ‘A’ long-term rating for The City of Easton, along with a revised outlook of ‘Stable’ from ‘Negative’. The report noted several drivers behind the positive shift, including “strategic decisions” to restructure debt in 2020, solid economic growth, and strong management.
“…Coupled with a healthy local revenue environment and prudent budget management,” these “strategic decisions afforded the city the opportunity to realize upfront savings, with surpluses achieved in audited fiscal 2020 and unaudited fiscal 2021. The restructuring played a role in officials' plans to navigate out of risky development agreements--exemplified through the sale of property that once entangled the city with contingent risks--and onto more stable financial footing” while in the grips of a pandemic.
S&P further noted positive property and earned income tax trends, as well as significant completed, under construction, or approved residential and commercial developments which are “expected to boost the housing stock for prospective residents as well as generate nearly 700 new jobs.” These projects all point to increased growth and stability for the residents of City.
S&P also highlights the capacity for the City’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to “provide [further] flexibility over the next few years.” The administration’s “prudent fiscal oversight”, including “more conservative approaches to revenue collection… [and] enhanced… financial statement transparency, [following the creation of]… a separate enterprise fund to account for its sewer operations” in 2020 strengthened the City’s financial assumption framework and underscored “expectations of sustained reserve and liquidity levels.”