Cordillera’s bond rating downgraded
EDWARDS, Colorado – Cordillera’s conflicts and dropping property values mean the community’s metro district will pay more to borrow money.The Cordillera Metro District’s bond rating was downgraded slightly by Fitch Ratings, from A to A-, but its rating outlook from “stable” to “negative,” the organization said in a written statement.The metro district is carrying $15.3 million in general obligation bond debt, it pays its bills quickly and has adequate reserves, said Fitch, one of a handful of international organizations that issues bond ratings.The metro district’s direct debt to full value is 2.9 percent, low by any standard, Fitch said. Also, it will have nearly 93 percent of its debt paid within 10 years. By comparison, Eagle County’s bond rating is AA, about as good as a county government can get, said John Lewis, Eagle County’s finance director.Fitch, Moody’s and S&P all rate organizations.Falling valuesLike the rest of the area, Cordillera’s tax base soared along with its property values – more than 30 percent between 2007 and 2010.And like the rest of Eagle County, those property values are down by 30 percent this year, Fitch said.Still, Cordillera is better equipped to deal with it than most local governments. In 2003, Cordillera voters approved a measure that allows the metro district to raise property taxes to generate the money it needs to pay its bills.And if Cordillera lands in a lawsuit morass, metro district voters positioned themselves to take over by giving the green light to float $15 million in more bonds to buy the Cordillera Club if no suitable alternative presents itself, Fitch said.Future unclearBut metro district’s future could be cloudy, Fitch said, with falling property values and the clashes between Cordillera Club owner David Wilhelm and several property owners and groups.Wilhelm says more than 180 have terminated their Club memberships. The property owners say Wilhelm is not running the Club and golf courses properly.He has said he will not open two of Cordillera’s four golf courses this summer, citing money problems. He has sued property owners associations for $96.5 million. The property owners associations and the Cordillera Transition Corporation have said they will return fire.Fitch says those issues could have long-term negative effects on the district’s tax base and financial operations.Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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