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U.S. Local Governments Credit Brief: Florida Municipalities, Counties, And School Districts


Cyber Risk Insights: Recession Pressures Could Expose More U.S. Public Finance Issuers To Cyber Attacks


Table Of Contents: S&P Global Ratings Credit Rating Models


Charter School Brief: Tennessee


U.S. Public Sector Cyber Risk Is Mainstream Now, Says Seminar

U.S. Local Governments Credit Brief: Florida Municipalities, Counties, And School Districts


Florida municipalities, counties, and schools (or local governments [LGs]) have demonstrated stable credit quality in recent years, which we believe is supported by continued economic development and growth despite the recent pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and a tight labor market that has affected local government portfolios nationwide. S&P Global Ratings expects credit quality for Florida LGs to remain stable in the near term despite the shallow recession predicted for the first half of 2023, due in large part to the added financial flexibility most of the portfolio has realized subsequent to injection of federal stimulus funds during the pandemic and ongoing economic development. Employment growth in Florida exceeds the national rate. Recovery in the leisure and hospitality sector was achieved during the last two years due to stronger domestic visitor activity, while international visitor activity remains depressed compared with pre-pandemic levels. All the while, business and professional services, financial, and information sectors continue to expand. Florida's unemployment rate has continued to trend below the national rate, at 2.7% as of October 2022, whereas the annual population growth at 1.9% has exceeded the national rate of 0.4% during 2022.

S&P Global Ratings maintains ratings on 101 LGs: 22 schools, 19 counties, and 60 municipalities. Overall, Florida LG credit quality remained stable during 2022, with only 1% experiencing rating movement. Two LGs within the portfolio experienced one-notch upgrades. Hernando County's upgraded rating reflects material improvement in reserves, coupled with stronger financial management policies and practices, whereas Seminole County's credit quality improvement reflects positive operations and economic growth within the county, supported by robust and forward-looking policies and practices. In addition, the portfolio realized one outlook revision, for Indian River County School, to stable from negative due to the district's improved financial profile during the past two years as a result of prudent expense management and revenue growth. The majority of the ratings have a stable outlook, with Winter Haven the only credit on positive outlook due to improving per capita market values, which we expect will continue to support a strong economic profile, while Hillsborough County School District is the only credit on negative outlook, reflecting uncertainty in the district's ability to balance recurring revenues and expenditures, without federal stimulus support, while facing expenditure uncertainty from labor contracts.

What We're Watching In 2023 And Beyond


Per-pupil school funding for the 2022-2023 budget increased from the previous year, to $8,143 from $7,758, but not enough to outpace inflation. Statewide enrollment is projected to increase by 2.4% and competition for state funds has increased during recent years, with charter school enrollment growth outpacing public school enrollment trends. Another expansion to school of choice is being considered in the 2023-2024 legislative session, potentially expanding eligibility for students to receive state funds for private tuition, including home-school-related expenses for online lessons or private tutoring. If it passes, this measure could ultimately increase the heat on competition for state funds. Retaining and recruiting teachers to fill vacancies across the Florida portfolio remains a challenge, in line with the nationwide portfolio. Minimum wage for school employees increased to $15 per hour, compared with the state minimum wage of $10 per hour, in an effort to achieve a starting salary of $47,500 and to raise pay for veteran teachers.

Independent special districts created prior to Nov. 5, 1968, were dissolved pursuant to a bill passed during the 2022-2023 legislative session that will become effective June 1, 2023. If Reedy Creek Improvement District (AA-/Developing, ad valorem tax bonds; A-/Negative, utility revenue bonds), the only affected district we rate, does not reconstitute under Florida's Uniform Special District Accountability Act, a transfer of assets and liabilities could affect those recipient local governments, namely Osceola (AA/Stable) and Orange (NR) counties. The legislation does not directly address how an asset and liability transfer would be accomplished, and consequently the financial ramifications to the respective counties are not reasonably foreseeable. We will continue to monitor developments as additional information becomes available as to what extent legislative actions may have an impact on credit quality to any rated entities.

Spotlight On Environmental, Social, And Governance Factors


During 2022, Florida local governments endured two hurricanes late in the season, Hurricane Ian (category 4) and Hurricane Nicole (category 1). We analyzed effects on credit quality for the Florida LG portfolio subsequent to the storms and determined that credit quality remained resilient. For more insight on our analysis following the storm events, see "Florida and South Carolina Local Governments' Credit Quality Remains Sound Despite Damage From Hurricane Ian," published Nov. 10, 2022. Acute and chronic physical climate risks, including severe weather, sea-level rise, flooding, and extreme heat, are common for the Florida local government portfolio (see "ESG U.S. Public Finance Report Card: Florida Governments And Not-For-Profit Enterprises," published Sept. 9, 2021, on RatingsDirect). While hurricane season is June to November, Florida counties and municipalities contend with various environmental risks throughout the year. We assess each credit's financial flexibility and planning initiatives in place to prepare, respond, and recover from the risks to which they are exposed.

On July 1, 2022, amendments to Florida's State Cybersecurity Act took effect, imposing certain ransomware reporting obligations on LGs and prohibiting those entities from paying or complying with cyber ransoms. Cyber security training provided by the Florida Digital Service is now required for LG employees within 30 days of employment and annually thereafter. LGs are required to adopt cyber security standards that safeguard government data and IT resources to ensure availability, confidentiality, and integrity that are consistent with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework and generally accepted best practices for cyber security. Counties with populations greater than 75,000 and municipalities with populations greater than 25,000 must adopt these standards by Jan. 1, 2024, whereas counties with populations less than 75,000 and municipalities with populations less than 25,000 must adopt the standards by Jan. 1, 2025. The bill also expands the purpose of the state's Cybersecurity Advisory Council to include advising local governments on cyber security threats, trends, and best practices. The state's bill impact analysis indicates these initiatives will likely have a negative fiscal impact on local governments to comply, but also outlines grant opportunities through the state for technical assistance for LGs, along with dedicated funding sources allocated to develop cyber security training state and LG employees are required to take. The bill also outlines that any convicted person, including any government employee or contractor that aids and abets a cyber security violation, must pay a fine twice the amount demanded in the ransomware offense that will ultimately be deposited in the state's general fund. We view this expansion of the cyber security act as having favorable credit attributes for the portfolio, as it has a structured and supportive framework for LGs to mitigate cyber risk. For more information on our views about cyber risks in U.S. Public Finance, see, "As Threats Rise, U.S. Public Finance Entities Take On Mounting Challenges To Secure The Digital Front Line," published on Dec. 13, 2022.

Florida Local Government Data

Table 1

Florida Municipalities & Counties: Medians
Projected per capita EBI (%) 170 111 86 79 59 49
Market value per capita ($) 262,152 251,224 121,310 81,019 74,903 52,326
Available general fund (%) 38 46 40 48 34 24
General fund performance (%) 3.5 3.3 5.0 4.6 6.0 (0.7)
Cash and expense (%) 76 140 70 149 44 51
Carrying charge (%) 6.2 5.1 6.7 7.2 10.7 3.5
Pension ARC + OPEB as % expense 9.5 9.6 10.8 12.4 8.0 14.6
EBI--Effective buying income. ARC--Annual required contribution. OPEB--Other postemployment benefits.

Table 2

Florida Schools: Medians
Household EBI (%) 94 106 84 88 79
Market value per capita ($) 154,927 160,217 120,904 97,632 57,954
Available general fund (%) 24.3 14.2 8.5 8.3 10.4
Debt per capita ($) 1,385 851 1,381 898 333
Debt as % market value 0.9 0.5 1.0 0.5 0.5
Pension ARC + OPEB as % expense 4.0 4.5 4.5 4.5 5.1
EBI--Effective buying income. ARC--Annual required contribution. OPEB--Other postemployment benefits.

Chart 1


Chart 2


Table 3

County Ratings List
General obligation Ratings linked to obligor creditworthiness
Organization Rating Outlook Rating Outlook
Broward Cnty AAA Stable AAA Stable
Citrus Cnty AA- Stable AA- Stable
Collier Cnty AAA Stable AAA Stable
Escambia Cnty AA Stable AA Stable
Flagler Cnty AA Stable AA Stable
Gulf Cnty AA- Stable
Hernando Cnty AA- Stable
Hillsborough Cnty AAA Stable AAA Stable
Jefferson County AA- Stable AA- Stable
Lee Cnty AA+ Stable
Miami-Dade County AA Stable AA Stable
Nassau Cnty AA Stable
Okaloosa Cnty AA Stable
Osceola Cnty AA Stable
Palm Beach Cnty AAA Stable AAA Stable
Sarasota County AAA Stable
Seminole Cnty AA+ Stable AA+ Stable
St Johns Cnty AA+ Stable AA+ Stable
St Lucie Cnty AA Stable AA Stable

This list was prepared by individuals on behalf of the USPF Group of S&P Global Ratings and is current as of Feb. 9, 2023. For the most up-to-date, accurate, and complete information on any credit ratings referenced in this list, please visit

Table 4

Municipalities Rating List
General obligation Ratings linked to obligor creditworthiness
Organization Rating Outlook Rating Outlook
Auburndale A+ Stable
Boca Raton AAA Stable AAA Stable
Boynton Beach AA- Stable
Bradenton AA- Stable
Cape Coral AA Stable
Clearwater AA+ Stable
Coral Gables AAA Stable AAA Stable
Coral Springs AAA Stable
Davie AAA Stable
Daytona Beach AA Stable
Deerfield Beach AA Stable AA Stable
Deltona AA Stable AA Stable
Doral AA+ Stable
Dunedin AA+ Stable AA+ Stable
Fort Lauderdale AAA Stable AAA Stable
Fort Myers AA Stable AA Stable
Fort Pierce A+ Stable
Hallandale Beach AA Stable AA Stable
Hialeah A+ Stable
Homestead A+ Stable A+ Stable
Inverness A+ Stable
Jacksonville AA Stable AA Stable
Key Biscayne Vill AAA Stable
Kissimmee AA Stable
Lake Worth Beach AA- Stable AA- Stable
Largo AA Stable
Lauderhill A+ Stable A+ Stable
Leesburg AA- Stable AA- Stable
Lighthouse Point AA+ Stable
Longboat Key AA+ Stable AA+ Stable
Margate AA Stable
Melbourne AA Stable
Miami AA- Stable
Miami Beach AA+ Stable
Miami Gardens A+ Stable A Stable
Miramar AA- Stable
Oakland Pk AA Stable
Ocoee AA- Stable
Orlando AA+ Stable AA+ Stable
Oviedo AA Stable
Palm Bay A+ Stable A+ Stable
Palm Beach Gardens AAA Stable
Palm Beach Twn AAA Stable AAA Stable
Palmetto Bay AAA Stable
Pembroke Pines AA Stable
Pensacola AA Stable
Pinecrest Vill AAA Stable
Pinellas Park (City of) AA Stable
Plantation AA+ Stable
Pompano Beach AA Stable AA- Stable
Port St Lucie AA- Stable AA- Stable
Riviera Beach AA Stable
St Augustine AA Stable
St. Cloud AA- Stable
Sunrise AA Stable
Tamarac AA Stable AA Stable
Tampa AAA Stable AAA Stable
Venice AA+ Stable
Weston AAA Stable
Winter Haven AA- Positive AA- Positive

This list was prepared by individuals on behalf of the USPF Group of S&P Global Ratings and is current as of Feb. 9, 2023. For the most up-to-date, accurate, and complete information on any credit ratings referenced in this list, please visit

Table 5

School Rating List
General obligation Ratings linked to obligor creditworthiness
Organization Rating Outlook Rating Outlook
Alachua Cnty Sch Brd AA- Stable A+ Stable
Broward Cnty Sch Brd AA- Stable A+ Stable
Citrus Cnty Sch Brd A Stable
Collier Cnty Sch Brd AA Stable
Columbia Cnty Sch Brd A- Stable
Duval Cnty Sch Brd A+ Stable
Flagler Cnty Dist Sch Brd A- Stable
Hillsborough Cnty Sch Dist A Negative
Indian River Cnty Sch Dist AA- Stable
Lake Cnty Sch Brd A Stable
Lee Cnty Sch Dist AA- Stable
Manatee Cnty Sch Brd A Stable
Martin Cnty Sch Dist A+ Stable A Stable
Miami Dade Cnty Sch Brd AA- Stable A+ Stable
Orange Cnty Sch Brd AA+ Stable AA Stable
Palm Beach Cnty Sch Brd AA Stable AA- Stable
Polk Cnty Sch Brd A Stable
Santa Rosa Cnty Sch Brd A+ Stable A Stable
School Board of Seminole County AA Stable AA- Stable
School District of Osceola County A Stable
St Johns Cnty Sch Brd AA- Stable
St Lucie Cnty Sch Brd A Stable

This list was prepared by individuals on behalf of the USPF Group of S&P Global Ratings and is current as of Feb. 9, 2023. For the most up-to-date, accurate, and complete information on any credit ratings referenced in this list, please visit

Related Research

This report does not constitute a rating action.

Primary Credit Analysts:Jennifer K Garza (Mann), Dallas + 1 (214) 871 1422;
Krystal Tena, New York + 1 (212) 438-1628;
Research Contributor:Akash J Pandey, CRISIL Global Analytical Center, an S&P affiliate, Mumbai

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