S&P boosts River Forest's rating to AAA

Reflects steady improvement from recession years

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By Deborah Kadin

Contributing Reporter

Just a few years ago, River Forest, like many communities around the nation facing the Great Recession, struggled with its finances. There were deficits and questions on how the village government would meet obligations. Reductions in staffing and other budget reductions were made.

Times have definitely changed.

Standard & Poor's has now upgraded River Forest's credit rating to AAA status, the village government announced in a press release Wednesday.

"It is with great pride to have Standard and Poor's rating service upgrade the Village of River Forest to a triple A bond rating," said village president Cathy Adduci. "This accomplishment is due to the hard work and fiscal diligence of Eric Palm, our Village Administrator, and his incredible staff.  I would also like to thank the Village Board of Trustees whose responsibilities are to create sound fiscal policies on behalf of our taxpayers.  I believe our taxpayers should be proud of this accomplishment."
Village administrator Eric Palm shared similar sentiments. 

"It's great news," said Palm. He said he was uncertain if this was the first time that River Forest had ever earned the top rating.

In February 2012, the bond rating had been upgraded from AA to AA+.

Palm said the upgrade is the culmination of several years of hard work by trustees and staff.

"We join… an even smaller group as a non-home rule municipality," Palm said. "It's confirmation that we have been doing things correctly from a finance perspective and we're moving in the right direction. The residents of River Forest should be pleased with this news."

The upgrade means the village should get more favorable interest rates if it has to borrow funds, perhaps for the massive sewer project being planned, if the state funding doesn't come through, Palm said.

Spending has come in under budget, and there have been surpluses which have helped replenish fund balances, said Palm. The village has a fully-funded capital equipment replacement fund that contributed to the strong rating. Dollars are available that can be transferred in the event of an emergency; the general fund reserve is at 25 percent, said Palm.

Other factors contributing to the upgrade include the village's passage of a 1 percent hike in the sales tax in 2010, which boosted village revenues. River Forest has also received consecutive distinguished budget awards from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada, said Palm.

Moody's, the other major bond rating service, will meet with village officials to talk about a possible shift in that agency's rating as well. The last time Moody's rating for the village came in May 2008 when the service assigned an Aa3 rating to debt River Forest issued to cover infrastructure work. That rating demonstrated a strong creditworthiness, although a modifier of 3 indicated a ranking in the lower end of that generic rating category, according to Moody's.


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John Murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2014 9:32 PM

Just for comparison sake, what is the OPV S&P Rating? Considering the VMA's decades of governance, we must be better than River Forest!

RF Achievement  

Posted: August 16th, 2014 5:48 AM

Kudos to all RF Citizens. This news helps all. This good news status is due to no large part of former Trustee Jim Winikates. He was the Finance Chairman - and had to proactively deal with all the bad news & hidden spears of Frank Paris. Also to be given credit is the Citizen Advisory Group that helped the Chairman navigate & make recommendations to the Village Trustees. An example of just how Government can and should work. Being transparent and partnering with Residents.

RF Achievement 2  

Posted: August 15th, 2014 7:57 PM

Wasn't it Conti and Adduci who led the sales tax legislation and referendum to success? According to our Village Manager, that was a big reason for our fiscally sound position and our Triple A rating today. Doesn't it make sense to follow their lead on the Township issue too? My guess is this Township issue will turn out to be beneficial to our Village too?

John from River Forest  

Posted: August 15th, 2014 7:02 AM

I think Adduci and her Board is doing a great job for our community. We have top notch professionals and we are lucky to have Adduci and her Board. Thank you for everything you do for our tiny Village and spending our tax dollars wisely. Keep up the good work.

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