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Moody’s Investors Service assigned an Aa1 rating today to the $29.6 million in general obligation bonds the City of Evanston expects to sell next week.

That maintains the city’s recent rating, down one notch from its former top-level triple-A rating.

After the sale, the city will have $166.4 million of general obligation debt. The new bonds will be used to refund part of three earlier bond issues.

Moody’s says the Aa1 rating reflects the city’s satisfactory general fund operations, sizable tax base with institutional presence provided by Northwestern University, above average debt burden, and sizable outstanding pension liabilities.

The agency says the city would need to reduce its pension liabilities and significantly grow its reserves and liquidity to move its rating back up to the triple-A level.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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