North Branch

Rebecca Kurtz, from Ehler’s, presents a plaque to North Branch Finance Director Joe Starks regarding the credit rating upgrade and positive outlook from Moody’s during the March 23 City Council meeting.  Photo submitted

2021 is off to an exciting start for the finance department, and entire city of North Branch for that matter.

Recently, the city recently received a credit rating upgrade and positive outlook from Moody’s. This is fantastic news for the city during a normal year by itself, but it’s absolutely incredible during a global pandemic and year in which credit rating downgrades are at or near an all-time high.

Why is the credit upgrade important? A higher credit rating leads to lower interest costs which, in turn, means savings for taxpayers. It truly reflects North Branch’s commitment to being fiscally conservative, declining debt burden, financial policy development and ongoing tax base growth.

In other news, the finance department has been busy reviewing and implementing new financial policies. The most recent example would be the Debt Management Policy that Council approved at the March 9 regular council meeting.

The development of a debt management policy is a key piece to sound financial management and is recognized by bond rating agencies. It establishes parameters for issuing new debt and managing current debt and helps ensure fiscal responsibility and resilience.

The department has also been busy improving outdated processes and policies with the goal of ensuring the city’s assets are safeguarded and saving taxpayer dollars. The outlook is bright for the city!

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