Top credit rating helps Great Barrington save $620,000 on fire station bond


GREAT BARRINGTON >> Armed with the best credit rating in Berkshire County, the Select Board this week approved a refinancing plan for the town fire station that is expected to save taxpayers well over a half-million dollars.

Lauren Sartori, the town's financial coordinator, said that Standard & Poor's Global Ratings, the worldwide yardstick for a municipality's purchasing power, recently upgraded Great Barrington's credit rating from AA+ to AAA — the highest credit possible score. The town is the first in Berkshire County to attain such a rating, according to Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin.

As a result, Great Barrington renegotiated the remaining $4.5 million on the town's loan for the $8.3 million fire station, which has 10 years to run. The cost of the state-of-the-art facility became a hotly contested issue when voters first pondered it in 2007. It was completed in 2009.

This renegotiation will save the town about $620,000 over the remainder of the term, Sartori said. The true renegotiated interest for the rest of the loan is about 1.31 percent, said Sartori. The previous bonds for the fire station were between 4 and 5 percent, she said.

Roosevelt and Cross of East Hartford, Conn., specialists in municipal bonds, won the bidding for the job.

"We had a total of six bidders, which makes for very healthy process," Sartori said.

""I wanted to commend Lauren for her work in this," Tabakin said on Wednesday night. "This is fabulous financial news for Great Barrington."

"It was a long process, but in the end, it was worth it," said Sartori. "We saved the town a lot of money."

Sartori told the board that the support of Tabakin and her management team was key in getting the AAA rating.

In commenting on the town's improved bond rating, Standard & Poor's noted that the town's management team was "very strong," its budget preparation "strong" and it commended the liquidity and flexibility of the town's financial assets.

The board lauded the work of both Sartori and Tabakin and unanimously agreed to approve the refinancing.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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