The Council has maintained its ‘AA’ long term credit rating, the top rating possible as ratings cannot be higher than those of the New Zealand government.
The report also recognises that the Council’s recent rates decision is supporting financial outcomes in difficult COVID-19 times.
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says the latest Standard & Poor’s credit rating report is a strong endorsement of Council’s approach to managing its finances and efforts to front up to the big challenges facing Lower Hutt.
"I’m pleased that we’ve kept our AA credit rating, with a stable outlook. This, and the fact we have improved our liquidity and budgetary performance scores, demonstrates the fundamentals of our financial management."
"The report is clear that historically low rates increases have contributed to an infrastructure backlog. As Mayor I’ve been clear we have to address our city’s infrastructure challenges, particularly much-needed investment in critical three waters infrastructure. The findings of the report demonstrate it is possible to be both financially prudent, and properly invest to get the basics right."
"We also know there are challenging economic times ahead as a result of COVID-19. Our financial strategy gives us the flexibility we need to ensure Lower Hutt is well supported in the recovery from COVID-19. It gives us the room we need to invest in the infrastructure and services that ensure a resilient city where all of our people thrive," Campbell Barry said.
The report notes that "Hutt’s financial management is experienced and relatively conservative. The council is able to adopt budgets and long-term plans without delay, and it remains focused on being financially disciplined in its approach to borrowing and insurance policies. We consider its debt and liquidity policies to be prudent."
Chief Executive Jo Miller says today’s rating is a strong endorsement of Council’s approach to working towards a balanced budget and investing in key infrastructure.
"We are well placed to proceed with our long term plans and make the investments we need to. Our getting back to basics approach has stood us in good stead and I’m very pleased our financial approach has been endorsed.
"The report also means we will be able to continue to access cheaper borrowing to ease the pressure on rates."
The S&P Ratings report is available here: www.standardandpoors.com/en_US/web/guest/ratings/press-releases