“The City of Jacksonville strongly rejects Moody’s downgrade of the City for its participation in an effort to protect the ratepayers and taxpayers of Jacksonville from a constitutionally unsound agreement previously entered into by JEA concerning the construction of Nuclear Power Plant Vogtle. JEA customers are currently paying for this skyrocketing, out-of-control nuclear power plant project with no certainty in cost or completion timeline. This downgrade action is based upon wild speculation, completely without rationale or merit, and not at all indicative of the City’s commitment to pay its debt (both past and present), or of its financial strength and integrity. Moody’s refused to acknowledge the City’s clearly stated (and historically demonstrated) commitment to make debt payments. The City cannot sit idly by while others make decisions that have significant consequences for our citizens without exploring all of our options.
The City finances have only been strengthening in recent years, as evidenced by the below facts:
· The City has never failed to make a debt service payment. Investors in City of Jacksonville obligations can rest assured that the City remains willing and able to honor all City obligations. Any assertion to the contrary is completely illogical with no basis in fact.
· The City has dramatically increased reserve balances from $177 million in FY15 to approximately $270 million in FY18.
· The City reduced its debt burden by $375 million since July of 2015.
· The City recently closed on a $54 million bond issue with 12 banks competing reflecting investor demand for City bonds. The bonds priced at an attractive interest rate of 2.46%.
· The City achieved unprecedented pension reform, which closed down the City’s underfunded pension plans and identified a dedicated source of revenue to fully-fund the plans and make good on promises to City employees and retirees.
· The Jacksonville economy is thriving, with record low unemployment, a consistently growing population, and an expanding and diversified tax base.”
– Sam Mousa, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Jacksonville