Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seattle Port Gains 'AAA' Rating for Upcoming Bond Sale

Credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings has assigned an 'AAA' rating to two Port of Seattle limited tax general obligation bonds, or LTGO bonds, set be sold via negotiations on Feb. 9.

These include a LTGO issuance for $30.3 million and a $76.7 million LTGO refunding issuance.

Fitch also affirmed the 'AAA' rating and issued an outlook stable outlook for a previous $255 million LTGO issuance by the port.

The ratings agency based the three ratings on several rationale, including: the port revenue from property taxes; its location within 'AAA'-rated Kings County; low debt levels; strong port finances forecast through 2016; and, the port's position as a leading US port.

Fitch also cited strong financial performances by the port and airport, and the maintenance of ample tax levy capacity to repay bonds.

According to Fitch, the port district's tax base is large, diverse, and wealthy compared to state and national averages. Despite the downward tax base pressure, taxable property values per capita remains high and taxpayer concentration is very low.
Income levels in the area are 20 percent to 30 percent above state and national levels and the poverty rate is lower. However, the county has been affected by the national recession, with unemployment at 8.4 percent in 2010 compared to a low of 3.8 percent in 2007.