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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns Aa3 rating to Fort Collins, CO moral obligation-backed Tax Increment Bonds

14 Jun 2013

Outlook on City's long term ratings is stable; Aaa issuer rating affirmed

NOTE: On March 15, 2016, the press release was corrected as follows: In the paragraph regarding methodologies, the publication date of Moody's Approach to the Moral Obligation Pledge was changed from June 1999 to November 2008. Revised release follows.

New York, June 14, 2013 --

Moody's Rating

Issue: Tax Increment Revenue Refunding Bonds (North College Avenue Project), Series 2013; Rating: Aa3; Sale Amount: $10,995,000; Expected Sale Date: 06-21-2013; Rating Description: Tax Allocation/Tax Increment

Opinion

Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Aa3 rating to the Fort Collins Urban Renewal Authority ("URA"), Colorado Tax Increment Revenue Refunding Bonds (North College Avenue Project), Series 2013, which are backed by a moral obligation of the City of Fort Collins, Colorado. At this time, Moody's has also affirmed the city's Aaa Issuer Rating with a stable outlook. The bonds are secured by a first lien pledge of incremental property tax revenues collected in the URA's North College Urban Renewal Area. In order to provide some additional bondholder security for the current offering, Fort Collins city council approved a "replenishment resolution" which provides for the reimbursement of a surety provider, or the replenishment of the debt service reserve fund, by Fort Collins (subject to appropriation by the city council) within 90 days of a draw on the reserve fund. Proceeds from the current issue will refund a portion of the URA's obligation to the city following a series of advances from the city general fund.

RATING RATIONALE

The Aaa issuer rating reflects a stable economy buttressed by the presence of Colorado State University, sound wealth levels typical of a college town, large tax base, favorable debt levels, and sound fiscal operations.

The Aa3 moral obligation rating reflects Fort Collins moral obligation to replenish the debt service reserve fund, if necessary, and the somewhat modest likelihood that pledged incremental revenues will not support annual debt service on the current offering.

The stable outlook incorporates the expectation that city financial performance has stabilized as the city benefits from new voted sales tax revenues. The outlook further reflects the expectation that the local economy will resume growth in the medium term and continue to benefit from growth in the higher education and brewery sectors.

STRENGTHS

- Strong city credit profile and low annual debt service on debt carrying its moral obligation greatly diminishes chance city will renege on its moral obligation

- Large tax base with strong institutional presence

- Sound fiscal operations despite some recent declines

- Low debt and debt service burdens on city COPs

- Track record of voter support for targeted sales tax increases

CHALLENGES

- City wealth measures are well below Aaa city medians, but somewhat understated due to large student population

- City has no history of being asked to replenish a debt service reserve fund carrying its moral obligation

- Nonessential nature of tax increment debt carrying the city's moral obligation increases, however minimally, the chance city will renege on its moral obligation

Outlook

The stable outlook incorporates the expectation that city financial performance has stabilized as the city benefits from new voted sales tax revenues. The outlook further reflects the expectation that the local economy will resume growth in the medium term and continue to benefit from growth in the higher education and brewery sectors.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP

- Significant growth in the city's full valuation

- Significant improvement in the city's financial position

- Significant improvement in socioeconomic measures

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING DOWN

- Unwillingness of city to honor its moral obligation pledge

- Downgrade of surety provider to below investment grade without a replacement DSRF

- Significant deterioration in the city's financial position

- Protracted decline in the city's full valuation

- Protracted decline in the city's sales tax receipts

The principal methodology used in this rating was Moody's Approach to the Moral Obligation Pledge published in November 2008. The principal methodology used in the issuer rating was General Obligation Bonds Issued by US Local Governments published in April 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Bryan A. Quevedo
Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
One Front Street
Suite 1900
San Francisco, CA 94111
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Dan Steed
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Public Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's assigns Aa3 rating to Fort Collins, CO moral obligation-backed Tax Increment Bonds
No Related Data.
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