SANTA CLARITA ( — At a time when multiple California cities are struggling with bankruptcy and budget cuts, the third-largest city in Los Angeles County is enjoying the benefits of managing its finances.

KNX 1070’s Jan Stevens reports Santa Clarita is celebrating Standard and Poor’s upgrade to a AAA rating — the highest credit rating possible for a city.

The city of 200,000 residents joined 67 other cities with the top S&P ranking earlier this month, marking its third upgrade since 2007.

The factors cited by S&P in the Sept. 6 report (PDF) that contributed to the ratings upgrade include continuity of management, strong availability of general fund reserves, long-term fiscal performance, a balanced budget, and fully funded future obligations such as Santa Clarita’s 100 percent funded retiree health care program.

Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar said the new rating is also a big encouragement for businesses thinking to move to Santa Clarita.

“We have been very, very focused on our economic development. We’ve identified certain industries, we have a great outreach program, and tried to facilitate these businesses in our community, which has also paid us big dividends in our ability to meet our financial obligations,” said Kellar.

The upgrade comes as major cities like San Bernardino and Stockton have filed for bankruptcy — a trend that has not escaped Kellar’s notice.

“We’ve had a budget that has always been on time and balanced every year since we became a city, which is in 1987,” said Kellar. “It’s extremely important that all cities have got to take a very hard look at their policies, and be sure that the decisions you make in good economic times are just as important as the ones when we have in a more challenging economy.”

Kellar pointed to a 16 percent “rainy day” reserve in the city’s general fund that is fully funded in the event of a more severe economic downturn.


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