Walla Walla Co. S.D. 250 (Coll. Place), WA -- Moody's upgrades Walla Walla Co SD 250 (College Place), WA issuer and underlying GO ratings to Aa3 from A1 and assigns Aa3 UND/Aaa ENH to 2022 GO refunding bonds
Rating Action: Moody's upgrades Walla Walla Co SD 250 (College Place), WA issuer and underlying GO ratings to Aa3 from A1 and assigns Aa3 UND/Aaa ENH to 2022 GO refunding bondsGlobal Credit Research - 03 Feb 2022New York, February 03, 2022 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the Walla Walla County School District 250 (College Place), WA's issuer rating and underlying rating on outstanding general obligation unlimited tax (GOULT) bonds to Aa3 from A1. Concurrently, Moody's has assigned a Aa3 underlying and Aaa enhanced ratings to the district's $22.5 million Unlimited Tax General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series 2022.RATINGS RATIONALEThe Aa3 issuer rating reflects the district's strong financial position stemming both from revenue growth and solid management, which has generated ongoing operating surpluses. It further reflects the growing regional economy and tax base, incorporating resident incomes and wealth metrics that have improved over the last decade and supported by new commercial and residential development. Although the pandemic has dampened enrollment growth over the last two school years, the longer-term enrollment trend has been and will continue to be strongly positive. As do nearly all of Washington districts, the district has what Moody's considers weak financial reporting that does not disclose other post-employment benefit liabilities or contributions, capital asset values, or depreciation because the district follows the 'Regulatory Basis of Accounting' as directed by the state's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and allowed by Washington state law. Long-term liabilities are manageable and fixed costs overall are modest and manageable.The Aa3 rating on the district's general obligation bonds is the same as the issuer rating based on the district's general obligation full faith and credit pledge as well as an unlimited property tax that is dedicated to debt service.The Aaa enhanced rating on the series 2022 bonds is based on participation in the Washington State School Bond Guarantee Program (Aaa). Under this program, the state pledges its full faith, credit, and taxing power to guarantee debt service when due on qualified school districts' voter-approved general obligation bonds. The program rating reflects the pledge of the State of Washington (Aaa stable) and strong program mechanics to ensure timely debt service payments on participating bonds.RATING OUTLOOKMoody's does not typically assign outlooks to local governments with this amount of debt outstanding.FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OF THE RATINGS- Strengthening of the full value per capita or resident income levels- Material and sustained growth of the district's reserves and liquidity- Improved financial reportingFACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS- Deterioration of the district's reserves and liquidity- Sustained trend of enrollment losses that would pressure financial performance- Material increase in leverage and fixed costsLEGAL SECURITYThe district's GOULT bonds are backed by the district's full faith, credit and unlimited property tax pledge. Bondholder security is enhanced by the county-provided lockbox for GOULT debt service.The Washington State School Bond Guarantee Program pledges its full faith and credit to make whole any shortfall in debt service by the district, if necessary, on a timely basis for payment to bondholders.USE OF PROCEEDSProceeds from the bonds will be used to refund the district's outstanding Unlimited Tax General Obligation Bonds, Series 2012 for savings.PROFILECollege Place School District, WA encompasses 30 square miles in Walla Walla County, serving about 14,427 residents in the city of College Place, a small portion of the city of Walla Walla and neighboring unincorporated areas. The district operates one elementary school, one middle school and one high school, with total enrollment of 1,609 for fiscal 2021.METHODOLOGY The principal methodology used in the underlying ratings was US K-12 Public School Districts Methodology published in January 2021 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBM_1202421. The principal methodology used in the enhanced rating was Rating Transactions Based on the Credit Substitution Approach: Letter of Credit-backed, Insured and Guaranteed Debts published in May 2017 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1068154. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies. REGULATORY DISCLOSURESFor further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1288235.Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating. Lori Trevino Lead Analyst REGIONAL_WEST Moody's Investors Service, Inc. 405 Howard Street Suite 300 San Francisco 94105 JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Thomas Jacobs Additional Contact REGIONAL_NE JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Releasing Office: Moody's Investors Service, Inc. 250 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10007 U.S.A JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 © 2022 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS AFFILIATES ARE THEIR CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND MATERIALS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY MOODY’S (COLLECTIVELY, “PUBLICATIONS”) MAY INCLUDE SUCH CURRENT OPINIONS. MOODY’S DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT OR IMPAIRMENT. SEE APPLICABLE MOODY’S RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS PUBLICATION FOR INFORMATION ON THE TYPES OF CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS ADDRESSED BY MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS, NON-CREDIT ASSESSMENTS (“ASSESSMENTS”), AND OTHER OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS MAY ALSO INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE MODEL-BASED ESTIMATES OF CREDIT RISK AND RELATED OPINIONS OR COMMENTARY PUBLISHED BY MOODY’S ANALYTICS, INC. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES. MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY’S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS AND OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLISHES ITS PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL, WITH DUE CARE, MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS, AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY RETAIL INVESTORS AND IT WOULD BE RECKLESS AND INAPPROPRIATE FOR RETAIL INVESTORS TO USE MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS OR PUBLICATIONS WHEN MAKING AN INVESTMENT DECISION. IF IN DOUBT YOU SHOULD CONTACT YOUR FINANCIAL OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVISER.ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS PROTECTED BY LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COPYRIGHT LAW, AND NONE OF SUCH INFORMATION MAY BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED, REPACKAGED, FURTHER TRANSMITTED, TRANSFERRED, DISSEMINATED, REDISTRIBUTED OR RESOLD, OR STORED FOR SUBSEQUENT USE FOR ANY SUCH PURPOSE, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT MOODY’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT.MOODY’S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY ANY PERSON AS A BENCHMARK AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED FOR REGULATORY PURPOSES AND MUST NOT BE USED IN ANY WAY THAT COULD RESULT IN THEM BEING CONSIDERED A BENCHMARK.All information contained herein is obtained by MOODY’S from sources believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error as well as other factors, however, all information contained herein is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind. MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and from sources MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, MOODY’S is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process or in preparing its Publications.To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability to any person or entity for any indirect, special, consequential, or incidental losses or damages whatsoever arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information, even if MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers is advised in advance of the possibility of such losses or damages, including but not limited to: (a) any loss of present or prospective profits or (b) any loss or damage arising where the relevant financial instrument is not the subject of a particular credit rating assigned by MOODY’S.To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability for any direct or compensatory losses or damages caused to any person or entity, including but not limited to by any negligence (but excluding fraud, willful misconduct or any other type of liability that, for the avoidance of doubt, by law cannot be excluded) on the part of, or any contingency within or beyond the control of, MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers, arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information.NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY CREDIT RATING, ASSESSMENT, OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY MOODY’S IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation (“MCO”), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,000 to approximately $5,000,000. MCO and Moody’s Investors Service also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of Moody’s Investors Service credit ratings and credit rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading “Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy.”Additional terms for Australia only: Any publication into Australia of this document is pursuant to the Australian Financial Services License of MOODY’S affiliate, Moody’s Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657AFSL 336969 and/or Moody’s Analytics Australia Pty Ltd ABN 94 105 136 972 AFSL 383569 (as applicable). This document is intended to be provided only to “wholesale clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY’S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a “wholesale client” and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to “retail clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. MOODY’S credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors.Additional terms for Japan only: Moody's Japan K.K. (“MJKK”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly-owned by Moody’s Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. Moody’s SF Japan K.K. (“MSFJ”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of MJKK. MSFJ is not a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (“NRSRO”). Therefore, credit ratings assigned by MSFJ are Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings. Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings are assigned by an entity that is not a NRSRO and, consequently, the rated obligation will not qualify for certain types of treatment under U.S. laws. MJKK and MSFJ are credit rating agencies registered with the Japan Financial Services Agency and their registration numbers are FSA Commissioner (Ratings) No. 2 and 3 respectively.MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY100,000 to approximately JPY550,000,000.MJKK and MSFJ also maintain policies and procedures to address Japanese regulatory requirements.