Marion earns highest possible financial designation

Mar 3, 2022

MARION — Marion has earned the highest possible rating for its financial stability from S&P Global Ratings, Town Administrator Jay McGrail told the select board at their March 2 meeting.

The town once again received a AAA bond rating, as it did in 2018, the last time finances were reviewed. 

This high rating allows the town to receive the best interest rates on upcoming projects, McGrail said. Borrowing money at lower interest rates, McGrail noted, “ultimately saves the taxpayers money.’’

McGrail praised the town’s fiscal team for successfully managing Marion’s finances. “I’m very proud of them,’’ he said. “We present a strong financial team.’’

Marion ranks higher than the national average, the report stated, because “we believe it can maintain better credit characteristics than the nation in a stress scenario.’’

In fiscal 2020, “local property taxes generated 77 percent of general fund revenue, which demonstrated a lack of dependence on central government revenue,’’ according to the report.

The AAA rating was attributed in part to four factors, S&P Global reported: The broad and diverse economic base with ongoing assessed value growth; consistent surplus operations that have yielded strong reserve and liquidity; good financial management policies and strong institutional framework and manageable debt burden.

The town, the report pointed out, faces the challenge of “likely growing pension and other post-employment benefit burdens’’ as employees retire and begin collecting pensions and other benefits. 

Still, the company noted, “we believe Marion will likely manage these costs prudently.’’

Environmental factors could impact Marion more than other communities, according to the report.

“However, the town works with a number of entities to identify vulnerabilities and develop mitigation plans,’’ the report reads.

McGrail agreed with this assessment. “We’ve done a lot to prepare,’’ he said.