The financial experts upgraded Leesburg from A+ to AA- for overall long-term management of public funding and also upgraded the city’s U.S. Highway 441 and 27 Community Redevelopment Area from A to A+.
“We believe Leesburg's management conditions are very strong, with “strong” financial practices under our Financial Management Assessment methodology, indicating practices are, in our opinion strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable,” according to a Standard and Poor’s report released Monday, June 30.
“Despite tough economic times, this shows that we are doing something right,” said Leesburg City Commissioner Elise Dennison.
Leesburg lost more than $2 million from reduced property values since 2007. But the city has more than doubled financial reserves to about $9 million – savings that are essential to prepare for future financial challenges such as a stumbling economy or a natural disaster.
The city trimmed operating expenses, reduced the fleet of municipal vehicles, scaled back on planned projects and pursued state and federal grants whenever possible to reduce the burden on city taxpayers. Staff positions were carefully reduced.
Leesburg remains diligent in promoting business development to help improve the local economy, to create more jobs and to help level out past declines in property values.
The new ratings from Standard and Poor’s affirm Leesburg’s successful budget efforts by top economic experts. They also can save the city even more money by lowering interest rates and insurance costs on municipal bonds.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday. For more information, visit www.leesburgflorida.gov.