Wilton's Board of Selectmen discussed Moody's bond rating, among other topics, at the board's May 1 meeting. Credit: Town of Wilton Zoom recording

Just ahead of Wilton’s bond offering later this month, Moody’s Investors Service is telling the investor world that Wilton is a great investment.

In a statement issued on April 27, Moody’s reaffirmed Wilton’s “Aaa” bond rating — the highest rating on Moody’s scale. According to the statement:

“Moody’s Investors Service has assigned an Aaa rating to the Town of Wilton, CT’s $13.1 million General Obligation Bonds Issue of 2023.

“The rating reflects Wilton’s stable local economy, supported by an exceptionally strong residential market and high resident incomes. The rating additionally reflects the town’s low leverage and fixed costs, stable financial operations, and moderate reserves and liquidity. We anticipate that these characteristics will remain key credit strengths for the town.”

The memo also highlighted a “stable outlook” for Wilton’s Aaa rating which “reflects the expectation that the town’s financial position will remain sound given reliance on property tax revenues and proactive management of long-term liabilities.”

Though not expected, Moody’s identified three factors that could lead to a future downgrade of the rating, including:

  • contraction of the local economy
  • a trend of structural imbalance leading to narrowed reserves
  • a significant increase in debt or capital needs

Wilton’s five-year capital spending plan shows Wilton’s forecasted debt levels are not expected to significantly increase — even if projects like the proposed new turf field (included in the forecasted debt below) are approved for bonding by voters at Tuesday night’s (May 2) Annual Town Meeting and the adjourned vote on Saturday, May 6.

Credit: Town of Wilton, 5-Year Bonded Capital Plan and Forecasted Borrowings and Debt Service (April 11, 2023)

In addition to her April update to residents, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice highlighted the news about Moody’s rating at Monday night’s (May 1) Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting.

“It was very interesting this year, meeting with Moody’s,” Vanderslice said, referring to a phone call with Moody’s analysts.

Despite what she called a “slam dunk” with ASML‘s investment in the town, Vanderslice explained it was actually harder for Wilton to achieve the Aaa rating this year due to changes in Moody’s rating methodology. For that reason, she said, West Hartford recently lost its Aaa rating.

Moody’s is also looking at fund balances differently than in the past. Vanderslice said she intends to present modifications to Wilton’s policies to be more aligned with Moody’s metrics.

Additional analysis and metrics used for Moody’s credit opinion can be found in a document posted online.

In addition to Vanderslice’s financial acumen, Town Administrator Matt Knickerbocker noted that Moody’s viewed the presence of Dawn Norton in a dual role as CFO for both the Town and the school district as a positive factor.

“They [Moody’s] were very complimentary of the governance. They particularly like fact that Dawn [Norton] handles both Town and [Board of Education]. That’s a problem in other towns where the town side doesn’t know what BOE is doing financially. That’s not a problem here,” Knickerbocker said.

More BOS News

  • In confidential executive session, the selectmen continued the process of interviewing candidates for the Parks and Recreation Commission. One more candidate will be interviewed before appointments are made.
  • Wilton Fire Department Chief Jim Blanchfield attended the BOS meeting for authorization to execute a memorandum of agreement for a State Homeland Security Grant. Wilton will have access to $480,956.
  • The BOS approved a contract for Fourth of July fireworks provided by Pyrotecnico Fireworks, Inc. The fireworks will cost $18,000 and will take place on July 4 with a rain date of July 5.