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Fairfax Credit Rating Boosted to Triple-A

The City of Fairfax's credit rating was boosted Thursday to triple-A by Standard & Poor's, in what the New York rating agency called an indication of how well the city's stable economic base has fared during the recession.

The city previously had a rating of AA+. Fairfax County has had a triple-A rating from all three major credit agencies for more than a decade, one of only a few jurisdictions to hold that distinction.

In its evaluation, Standard & Poor's cited the city's "affluent suburban community" within the Washington region; its large property tax base; its wealthy median income and buying income levels and its strong financial performance.

"We believe officials will sustain the city's strong financial performance and position and manageable debt burden, evidenced, in part, by continued healthy general fund reserves," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Jesse Brady. "The absence of tax-supported debt in the city's current five-year capital plan further supports our expectation that the city's financial and debt profiles will remain favorable."

The median household income in Fairfax is a bit more than $105,000, according to estimates from 2007 by the U.S. Census Bureau, with the credit agency noting that the large student population from George Mason University "somewhat deflates these wealth and income indicators."

The city's $6 billion in assessed properties has experienced substantial growth -- 18 percent per year from 2001 to 2007 -- but slowed to 2.8 percent in fiscal year 2008 and 0.3 percent in 2009.

By Derek Kravitz  |  October 15, 2009; 4:18 PM ET
Categories:  Derek Kravitz  
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