Moody’s upgrades its rating on Wayne Co.’s debt
A credit-rating agency has upgraded its outlook on Wayne County’s finances and debt.
Moody’s Investor Services has raised its opinion of the county’s general obligation limited tax debt from Ba3 to Ba2, the company said. New York-based Moody’s issued its upgrade in a report released Thursday. A Ba2 rating is he second highest of Moody's long-term corporate obligation rating scale.
In February, the company raised its outlook on the county’s finances, but affirmed its Ba3 rating of its debt.
In its latest report, the company cited improvement in the county’s finances, its expense cuts, its reduction of retirement liabilities and its financial recovery plan.
“(The) upgrade from Moody’s speaks to the depth of our recovery plan and the fiscal responsibility we’re instituting in every facet of county government,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement Friday.
“This positions us to do more with the resources we have and continue to move in the right direction. While the news is good, there’s a lot of work to do. We’re committed to staying the course and taking on the challenges that remain.”
Evans’ recovery plan, which he unveiled in April 2015, called for cost-cutting measures, including the reduction of employee health care benefits, the elimination of health care for future retirees and the restructuring of the pension system.
In January 2015, when Evans took office, the county faced a $52 million annual deficit stemming from an underfunded pension system and a $100 million drop in property tax revenues since 2008.
Six months later, state officials declared a financial emergency in the county. To address the problem, Wayne County and the state entered into a consent agreement, which gave Evans some powers usually wielded only by emergency managers.
In July 2016, Evans announced the county eliminated its structural deficit with his recovery plan.