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updated: 8/2/2013 1:35 PM


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Kristine Kasbeer

HIGHWOOD (JULY 2013) -- The City of Highwood is proud to announce that it recently received a Standard & Poor long-term rating upgrade. The City has impressively moved from an A- to an A on its previously issued general obligation debt and refunding bonds. The outlook on the City's ratings is stable and strong, and expected to continue upwards.

"The rating action is based on our view of the city's improved general fund balance and cash levels, and our anticipation that the city will maintain those reserves and at least break-even results," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst, Jennifer Boyd.

This rating upgrade reflects the City of Highwood's improved financial standing. This rating identified that the City intends to use conservative budgeting methods and management to produce balanced General Fund results. This rating upgrade also implies potential savings of tens of thousands of public and taxpayers' dollars due to lower available interest rates.

City Manager Scott Hartman adds, "At a time when our economy has been in flux, my staff and I have focused on economic development, reinvestment in the City operations and prudent fiscal management. We have made great strides in improving Highwood's financial health."

The challenging economy and lack of general reserves, the City of Highwood had to rely on short-term borrowings to cover operating costs in the latter part of fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Through conservative budgeting methods and budget management, coupled with significant cost control measures, the City of Highwood was able to close fiscal year 2012 in the black. Although we do not have final audit amounts for fiscal year 2013, management is pleased to report positive financial operations with a surplus for a second year in a row. The two years of surplus broke the City's dependency on debt and allowed for the creation of a fund balance reserve.

"We are all excited for this upgrade," states Zabinski. "It's a validation that the City took the needed steps to manage out of the recession. We are using our financial resources effectively, efficiently and wisely. At the same time, it's clear that there's more we need to do. This bond rating increase is proof positive we are on the right path in our commitment to long-term, comprehensive operational and financial planning."

"Through the diligent efforts of our staff over the last two fiscal years and a forecast for further growth in 2014, the City of Highwood has established a solid financial foundation upon which we can continue to build for years to come," says Hartman. "I personally want to acknowledge the hard work of our staff and Ms. Zabinski in particular for helping Highwood achieve such an improved financial position."

S&P also cited Highwood's participation in the area economy, the good income levels, very strong market value per capita, and low overall debt burden as contributing factors in the upgrade. The outlook on Highwood's ratings is stable and strong.

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