Moody’s opted not to downgrade Miami-Dade County’s credit rating this year, concluding tax revenue remains strong enough to keep debt-payments flowing without too much worry. The credit agency maintained the negative outlook for Miami-Dade, citing tight budget conditions for Florida’s largest local government and political difficulties in raising taxes.
Credit ratings mostly affect what a government pays in interest for borrowed money, but they also offer an outside grade on financial health. Moody’s maintained its “very low credit risk” rating for Miami-Dade (officially, Aa2) but the negative outlook means a downgrade remains a possibility.
Miami-Dade’s total debt load is hovering around $17 billion, according to the latest budget figures, and Moody’s said the obligations amounted to a “sizable but manageable level of debt.” It praised the county for implementing “significant budget cuts in recent years” but said the spending needs for a county with a $6 billion budget leave it with a “narrow financial condition.”
Moody’s shifted Miami-Dade’s credit outlook from stable to negative in November 2013. The county’s school system has a negative outlook from Moody’s, too. More tax dollars would help, but Moody’s notes that Miami-Dade faces “political challenges in raising additional revenues.”