Fitch Ratings affirms the following rating of --Approximately
The Rating Outlook is Stable for all bonds.
The GO bonds are secured by the county's full faith and credit and unlimited taxing power.
The sales tax revenue bonds are secured by the county's share of the local government half-cent sales tax.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
STRONG FINANCIAL OPERATIONS: Reserve levels are strong and liquidity is excellent. The real property tax rate is well under the statutory limit.
DEBT REMAINS LOW: Fitch expects the county's key debt ratios will remain low as capital needs are expected to be financed from dedicated sources and capital reserves, limiting future tax- supported borrowing needs.
ECONOMY PERFORMING COMPARATIVELY WELL: Employment levels are increasing, and unemployment remains lower than the state and nation. The economy exhibits good diversity, and benefits from extensive transportation and trade infrastructure and a reputation as a leading tourist destination. Income metrics are slightly above- average.
STRONG SALES TAX COVERAGE: Fiscal 2012 pledged revenue coverage of maximum annual debt service (MADS) for the half-cent sales tax revenue bonds is 4.79 times (x). Preliminary and draft fiscal 2013 pledged revenues show moderate growth. Additional leveraging is not anticipated.
The rating is sensitive to shifts in fundamental credit characteristics including the county's strong financial management practices. The Stable Outlook reflects Fitch's expectation that such shifts are highly unlikely.
STRONG RESERVES, EXCEPTIONAL LIQUIDITY
Fiscal 2012 general fund results show a
The draft and preliminary results for fiscal 2013 indicate a small operating surplus after transfers in the combined operating funds. The combined unrestricted general and sheriff fund balances increase to 26 percent of expenditures and transfers.
The fiscal 2014 general fund budget appropriates
TAXABLE PROPERTY VALUES ARE STABILIZING
After a 28 percent decline in taxable assessed property values (TAV) from fiscal 2008-2012, the taxbase is stabilizing and showing signs of improvement. Values were essentially flat for fiscal 2013 and increased 4.5 percent for fiscal 2014. Officials expect continued growth for fiscal 2015; the certified values will be released in
DEBT METRICS MEASURE FAVORABLY
The county's key debt metrics remain very modest and affordable. Net overall debt is equivalent to 1.4 percent of market value or
The county's tax supported borrowing plans are very modest. The capital improvement plan indicates general government debt issuance of
Pension benefits are provided through the state-administered Florida Retirement System (FRS). FRS is well funded and the county's actuarial required contribution (ARC) to the plan consumes a reasonable 7 percent of total spending. Total carrying costs, debt service, pensions and other post-employment benefits, account for a moderate 9.7 percent of total fiscal 2012 governmental spending.
SALES TAX BOND COVERAGE
Pledged half-cent sales tax revenues improved 3.9 percent in fiscal 2012 and preliminary and draft results indicate 7.1 percent growth in fiscal 2013. Coverage of maximum annual debt service (MADS) from fiscal 2012 revenue is a strong 4.79x. County half-cent sales tax revenues peaked in fiscal 2006 at
DEEP AND DIVERSE SOUTHEAST FL ECONOMY
Overall employment growth within the county has performed well with an annual average growth rate of 2.9 percent for the past three years, almost triple the job growth rate nationwide. The most recent unemployment rate from
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Fitch Ratings affirms the following rating of