Standard & Poor's has raised Easton's bond rating to an A+, a move that could help the city as it prepares to sell a $16 million bond to fund a new city hall.
However, city officials were cautious Monday as they announced the new rating, saying Easton was still facing the same sort of bitter economic climate as other municipalities in Pennsylvania.
"We're really excited about this higher rating," Mayor Sal Panto told reporters at a news conference, but added: "It doesn't mean we're rich. It doesn't mean we have bags of money in the bank."
What it does mean, Panto and other administration members say, is that the city will have an easier time getting investors for the $16 million bond for the new city hall. City Council is expected to vote on the bond Wednesday.
"I think it's a signal to investors," finance director Chris Hegel said.
They may not know Easton, he said, but they know the S&P. A higher rating from firms like Standard & Poor's or Moody's means lower interest rates and insurance costs on bonds.
In its report, S&P says it increased the rating based on "Easton's consistent financial performance, supported by strong management" as well as "adequate budget performance."
It also said the city's economy was weak, due to higher-than-average unemployment and lower buying income.
Standard & Poor's rates the city every two or three years. In 2010, it raised the rating from BBB to A minus. The highest rating a municipality can achieve is AAA.