Two sets of public improvement bonds totaling almost $1.5 billion have been given Fitch’s AA rating.

The rating reflects Houston’s increasing tax base values, diversified and growing economy, moderate direct debt burden and narrowing general fund fiscal margins. The series 2000 bonds, totaling slightly more than $2 million, go on sale today through syndication by Bear Stearns. The AA rating on Houston’s $1,248,775,000 public improvement bonds and $42,088,000 certificates of obligation also has been confirmed.The city’s taxable assessed valuations for fiscal 2001 demonstrates a fourth consecutive year of solid growth. Issued building permits have reached new thresholds, according to Fitch’s.

The city’s taxable assessed valuation for fiscal 2001 will grow 8.5%, mirroring last year’s 8.4% growth. In line with the prosperity, the city has for the seventh consecutive year decreased property taxes.

Houston is Texas’ largest city and fourth largest in the nation with an estimated population of more than 1.9 million in 2000. The city is a major center for energy, medical, financial, retail, transportation, manufacturing and tourism industries. The Port of Houston has been ranked first in foreign tonnage and second in total tonnage among all US ports and seventh in the world.

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