Fiorentini Says ‘AA’ Rating Lowers Consentino Interest Bill; Mayor Hedges on Need for Prop 2 ½ Relief

Haverhill's Dr. Albert B. Consentino School. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini said a credit agency’s recent bond rating of “AA” saves taxpayers $2.4 million in interest over an “A” rating when borrowing for a new Dr. Albert B. Consentino School.

The mayor’s announcement, however, hedged for the first time on a prediction the city can afford the new school without asking voters to grant relief from the state’s tax-limiting law, Proposition 2 1/2.

“Over the years, we have held a tight rein on spending and increased our reserves to the adequate number we have today. This makes it possible to do the Consentino School, possibly without a debt exclusion, which would never have been possible with the low bond rating the city had when I started.”

Fiorentini explained the city’s bond rating has steadily improved from “Baa3” when he became mayor in 2004. At that time, he said, Haverhill and Springfield were tied for the lowest municipal bond ratings in Massachusetts.

Standard and Poor’s continues the city’s “AA” long-term bond rating with a “stable outlook.”

“This rating reflects our view of Haverhill’s stable and growing residential tax base, strong management and stable reserves,” reads a letter S&P Global sent to the city. “We expect management to continue adjusting its budget to maintain strong reserves and very strong overall liquidity.”

The mayor said the rating also applies to $3 million in borrowing to close out the Caleb Dustin Hunking School project as well as sewer system repairs, bridge repairs and City Hall exterior improvements.

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