Cuyahoga County Maintains High Credit Rating By Issuing Progressive Field Renovation Bonds

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cuyahoga County will maintain its high credit rating into the new year, even as it prepares to incur additional debt under the lease with the Cleveland Guardians, according to the latest assessments.

Moody’s Investors Services maintained the county’s Aa2 rating, its third ranking, marking confidence in the county’s ability to repay $ 190.9 million in sales tax obligations needed to fund renovations to Progressive Field, including portions to reimbursed by the City of Cleveland and the team.

The bonds were approved as part of the $ 435 million rental agreement to keep the Guardians in their hometowns until 2036. They are expected to hit market this week.

“The county’s healthy fiscal position will allow it to exert additional leverage without significantly weakening its overall credit profile,” the Moody’s report said.

County manager Armond Budish praised the stable prospect in a statement Tuesday, noting that Standard and Poor also gave the county its highest rating, AAA. Higher bond ratings mean lower interest rates, and therefore lower costs for taxpayers.

“These scores were achieved through strong budget management and careful budgeting,” Budish said.

Following the first County Council meeting of the year on Tuesday, where the credit rating was not mentioned, President Pernel Jones told and The Plain Dealer that the rating is a ” testament of the good decisions ”that this organization has made over the past 10 years. .

“I’m proud of our rating,” he said.

The news came the same day that the board approved payment of an additional $ 78,976 to write off the roughly $ 3.7 million of outstanding debt owed on the $ 120 million of original bonds that the county loaned Gateway Economic Development Corporation in the 1990s to build Progressive Field and Quicken. Loans Arena, now named Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Gateway pledged to repay the county with leftover construction money and arena income, which never performed up to expectations and have been subsidized by the general fund since then.

The county has also committed an additional $ 50,000 to cover brownfield redevelopment debt service deficits.

In the coming weeks, the council’s budget and finance committee will consider a resolution allowing reimbursement of money paid for the construction of a new prison, if the county were to issue bonds to cover the expected price of $ 550 million. of dollars. The county has yet to decide on the location of the new jail and has yet to finalize the cost.

“We’re just laying the groundwork,” Jones said of the resolution.

It’s unclear what impact, if any, this new debt could have on the county’s bond ratings.

Budish offered to pay for jail by extending the county’s 0.25% sales tax indefinitely. The tax will expire in 2027.

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