Jackson County School District, GA GO Debt Rating Raised To #A# On Improved Finances, Growing Tax Base

Stocks and Financial Services Press Releases Friday January 20, 2017 08:58
CENTENNIAL--20 Jan--S&P Global Ratings

CENTENNIAL (S&P Global Ratings) Jan. 19, 2017--S&P Global Ratings raised its underlying rating for credit program on Jackson County School District, Ga.'s general obligation (GO) debt one notch to 'A' from 'A-'. The outlook is stable.

The rating action reflects S&P Global Ratings' opinion of the district's improved financial performance, increasing reserves, and growing property tax base.
At the same time, the rating service affirmed its 'AA+' long-term rating, with a stable outlook, on the district's GO debt.

The long-term rating reflects S&P Global Ratings' view of the district's participation in the Georgia State Aid Intercept program. The underlying rating reflects the rating service's opinion of the district's general creditworthiness.

"We do not expect to change the rating over the next two years. However, with all other credit factors remaining stable, if the district were to increase and maintain reserves at levels we consider strong to very strong, we could raise the rating," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Daniel Hughes. "If the district's financial performance were to deteriorate, leading to sustained decreases in reserves, or if the district's fixed costs were to place significant financial pressure on the district, we could lower the rating."

The stable outlook on the underlying rating reflects S&P Global Ratings' opinion that the district's improved financial performance will allow it to maintain, at least, adequate reserves. In addition, S&P Global Ratings believes the district's growing tax base, access to employment opportunities in Gwinnett County, and limited debt plans provide additional rating stability.

The district's full-faith-and-credit pledge, including its ability to levy ad valorem property taxes without limitation as to rate or amount, secures the GO bonds. The district's participation in the Georgia State Aid Intercept program provides additional bond security. This voluntary state aid intercept program allows the state to guarantee repayment of a local school district's GO bonds. The district must maintain at least 2x state aid coverage of maximum annual debt service to be eligible for the higher program rating.

Certain terms used in this report, particularly certain adjectives used to express our view on rating relevant factors, have specific meanings ascribed to them in our criteria, and should therefore be read in conjunction with such criteria. Please see Ratings Criteria at www.standardandpoors.com for further information. Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect at www.globalcreditportal.com and at www.spcapitaliq.com. All ratings affected by this rating action can be found on the S&P Global Ratings' public website at www.standardandpoors.com. Use the Ratings search box located in the left column.

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