The City of Burien announced that it has had its bond rating upgraded to its highest level yet – from “Aa2” to “Aa1” – after a credit opinion issued on August 24, 2021 by Moody’s Investor Services.

“The Aa1 rating shows that our city government is well-managed and has strong financial policies and practices in place for the benefit of our community,” said Brian J. Wilson, Burien City Manager.

According to the City’s finance director Eric Christensen, the rating of Aa1 is based on the following factors: demonstrated track record of strong financial reserves, strength of the local economy, strong budget management, the City’s financial policies, and experienced management operating the City in an efficient manner.

On Aug. 12, 2021, rating analysts from Moody’s heard a presentation from City Manager Brian Wilson, Finance Director Eric Christensen, Financial Analyst Rebecca Hodge, Community Development Director Susan McLain, Economic Development Manager Chris Craig, and Bond Underwriter Jim Nelson of D.A. Davidson & Co. The team presented information and answered questions on City management, finances, economic growth, and long-term planning.

The City’s last bond rating presentation was in 2016. Since then, City leadership and staff have become stronger and new policies and plans, such as the Housing Action Plan, Climate Action Plan, and Urban Center Plan have been developed. Intentional efforts to build up General Fund reserves and a contingency fund reflected positively on the City’s financial outlook. Another fact that helped the presentation is that City leadership acted quickly in April 2020 to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing substantial expenditure reductions.

The City is in the process of refinancing the Limited Tax Obligation Refunding Bonds issued in 2010 and 2011 to take advantage of today’s lower interest rates. The 2010 series B bonds were issued with interest rates 5.13–6.13% to pay for a major street overlay project. The 2011 bonds were issued with an interest rate of 4% to pay for street improvements as well as to refinance existing bonds. The refinanced bonds will carry a substantially lower interest rate of 0.91%, delivering interest cost savings of $1,277,754 over the bonds’ ten-year term.