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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms Barrow County School District, GA's Aa2 G.O. rating

24 Jul 2014

Approximately $68 million in debt affected

New York, July 24, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the Aa2 rating on Barrow County School District, GA's $68 million of outstanding general obligation bonds. Concurrently, we have removed the rating from review, as our confirmation of the rating resolves the earlier action. Moody's placement of the rating under review with direction uncertain on June 27, 2014 was prompted by a lack of sufficient financial information for fiscal 2013, which we have since received. We have also affirmed the Aa1 enhanced rating on the district's outstanding G.O. debt.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The Aa2 rating reflects the district's sizeable tax base that has begun to stabilize after several years of significant declines and satisfactory reserves. The rating also takes into account the district's above average debt burden, which is somewhat mitigated by the use of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenues for debt service. The district is located in Barrow County (Aa2/NOO) 45 miles northeast of Atlanta (Aa2/stable).The district's assessed value has contracted in recent years due to the recession, but stabilized in 2014 to a sizeable full value of $3.4 billion. Officials estimate 2% growth going forward due to new development in the area. Mizuno USA is opening a distribution center in the area and beginning a $2 million renovation of the existing facility. Additionally a new Target (A2/STA) has opened along with other retail establishments. Wealth indices are below average, with a per capita income and median family income at 76% and 88% of US, respectively. Countywide unemployment rates are 6.7% below the state's 7.5%, as of May 2014. Audited results for fiscal 2013 report an operational surplus of $963,000, increasing the General Fund balance to $15.2 million or 14.5% of revenues. District management attributes the surplus to favorable budget to actual revenues along with 6 furlough days. For fiscal 2014, management anticipates a significant operational deficit of up to $3 million. Current levy rates are $18.50/$1,000, with a cap of $20/$1,000, providing limited revenue raising ability. Continued operating deficits could pressure the rating near term. District enrollment has consistently increased to a current enrollment number of 13,300 students. The district's net direct debt burden is elevated at 2.3% of full value. All outstanding debt is supported by SPLOST revenues. The district plans to go to voters for renewal of the SPLOST in 2015, as the existing SPLOST expires in 2016. The district was recently placed on review due to a lack of sufficient financial information (see Moody's repot of June 27, 2014). The district has subsequently provided sufficient financial information for 2013.

The Aa1 enhanced rating is based on the additional security provided by the State of Georgia's (Aaa/stable) School District Intercept Program (GSDI), under which the State Board of Education (BOE) is required to transfer state aid appropriated for each school district (including charter school systems) directly to the paying agent in case of debt service shortfalls. The Aa1 rating reflects sufficient debt service coverage of 3.58 times maximum annual debt service ($7.4 million in February 2027) based on fiscal 2013 state aid.

STRENGTHS

-Sizeable tax base that has stabilized after recent declines

-Sufficient financial reserves

CHALLENGES

-Elevated debt burden

-Limited revenue raising ability

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP

-Significant tax base growth

-Increase in financial reserves

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN

-Deterioration in financial reserves

-Sizeable tax base declines

-Increase in debt burden

RATING METHODOLOGIES

The principal methodology used in the underlying rating was US Local Government General Obligation Debt published in January 2014. The principal methodology used in the enhanced rating was State Aid Intercept Programs and Financings: Pre and Post Default published in July 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.

James Colvin
Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
600 North Pearl Street
Suite 2165
Dallas, TX 75201
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Lauren E Von Bargen
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 confirms Barrow County School District, GA's Aa2 G.O. rating
No Related Data.
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