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Jonesborough receives new AA- credit rating

The Town of Jonesborough increased its credit rating to an AA- rating, which is among the top tier of credit grades.
According to Standard & Poor’s credit rating, the Town of Jonesborough raised its credit rating from an A+ to an AA-. The rationale of the rating, according to Standard & Poor’s, is due to a number of areas, including the town’s budgetary flexibility, adequate overall budgetary performance with a deficit, adequate debt and contingent liabilities profile and an adequate economy.
“This brings me so much joy,” Town Recorder Abbey Miller said. “It’s a validation of what we have been doing.”
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said six years ago in 2008, when he became the mayor of the Town of Jonesborough, it had a BBB- credit rating. One notch below would have put the town in what is called speculative grade. He said a BBB- is considered junk bond status and not a good situation to be in.
“Thanks to our very capable staff here at Town Hall and to the very good management on the part of this board and the ones that have preceded us here, we have received a credit upgrade to an AA-, which puts us right up in the top tier of credit grades,” he said. “But if there has ever been any doubt about the intentions of this board, and the intentions of our staff, and the progress that we are making here in the Town of Jonesborough, I think it pretty much settles the question.”
The improved credit rating, Wolfe said, goes down to the department heads, to the actual employees on the ground doing the things that help the town government operate with businesslike efficiencies. He said with that work ethic, those savings are being passed back to the general fund, which has tripled over the last six years from a little over $400,000 to $1.2 million.
In 2003, the Town of Jonesborough had a negative $700,000 balance.
“That’s the kind of thing these credit agencies look at when you go to borrow money,” Wolfe said. “The negative folks will say, ‘Well you are borrowing too much money. You are spending too much money. You are trying to do too much.’ This is an affirmation that no, we are not.”
Alderman Chuck Vest said there is an old saying in the company that he works for: “Sometimes you have to invest money to create money.” He said the company has utilized that saying by investing in systems to make their business more efficient, which leads to greater sales and revenue.
That saying, Vest said, can also be applied in government by investing money into the infrastructures of the town, including the streets.
“It creates energy where businesses want to come and people want to move to the area,” he said. This provides a snowball effect where more revenue follows.
Vest went on to say that he sees many examples of little towns throughout the southeast when he travels that do not use forward thinking because they believe they cannot spend money.
“When you don’t invest into the infrastructure of your town, all these little towns dry up and go away and the young people move away,” Vest said. “It is really sad to see. Sometimes investing in things pays off in the long run.”
Although the last several years have not been good nationally, Wolfe said the Town of Jonesborough continues to see steady retail growth. He said part of the reason for that growth is they have been out thereworking with folks coming into town starting new businesses.