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Poulsbo bonding makes ‘AA’ grade

$9.5 million in issued bonds sought for new city hall project.

POULSBO — The Viking City is now officially one of the top rated in the state when it comes to bonding capabilities. The city was bumped from an A+ bond rating to an AA rating by national rating agency Standard & Poor’s Sept. 12. The upgrade is a two-level jump for Poulsbo, according to a Wednesday press release from the city.

The new rating is expected to save the city money as it continues the process of seeking $9.5 million in Limited Tax General Obligation bonds to finance a new city hall. Site work is already under way at the corner of Third Avenue and Moe Street on the $16.9 million project. The new rating is projected to conserve roughly $114,000, as bond insurance would be made non-cost effective, the statement reads.

“This is a great accomplishment for the city and the citizens of Poulsbo,” said Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade. “This excellent bond rating grade of ‘AA’ reflects that the city is very well-managed and has excellent financial policies in place for the benefit of our citizens.”

The city’s staff and consultants presented information to Standard & Poor’s Sept. 9, addressing the topics of management, finances, local economy, policies, and long-term planning.

City Finance Director Debbie Booher said Poulsbo received its ranking upgrade due to:

• strong financial policies;

• the stability of the local economy and retail development in the city;

• its Capital Improvement Plan (which includes mapped future projects and their identified sources of revenue);

• sound finances and reserves; and

• experienced and efficient city management.

“We understand Poulsbo is one of the highest rated small cities in Washington, and all of the other cities rated ‘AA’ have a larger population than Poulsbo,” Council Member Ed Stern said. “Poulsbo is the regional hub of north Kitsap County, and the new city hall project serves as the cornerstone of a downtown reinvestment and revitalization effort, including surrounding streets, sidewalks, traffic flows, and parking adjacent to the city hall.”

The release also stated the Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds will be underwritten by Martin Nelson & Co., a Seattle-based investment banking firm.

Move-in at the new city hall is slated for the start of 2010. In addition to the $9.5 million in bonding, the city is also looking to sell three of its properties to help finance the project: the current city hall site, the undeveloped Mitchusson Park and land on 10th Avenue, now being considered as the future site of a Harrison Medical Center cancer treatment facility.

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