What Goes Into Cash & Short-Term Investments?

Merritt Research Services strives to paint the most accurate picture of a Credit's financial condition based on information provided in audited financial statements and notes contained therein. Because the dollar amount of Cash & Short Term Investments is used to calculate several salient liquidity ratios in the CreditScope database, it is particularly important to note that only unrestricted and highly liquid cash and short-term investments are included in this field. Merritt typically does not include any cash reserved for collateral, held by fiscal agents, or trustee-held restricted...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Tax Base Data

Merritt Research Services provides tax base data for credits within the City, County, and School District sectors. Tax base data is found in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) in the Statistical Section, which typically provides an abundance of information relating to economics and demographics. When entities do not provide tax base data in their CAFR, Merritt will utilize public documents from other sources, including Official Statements and Continuing Disclosure Documents which may be obtained through Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA). Tax base data provides an...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Credit-to-Issue Associations

Merritt Research Services aggregates salient credit information by locating, obtaining, providing, and following an audit or fund contained in a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that best represents the source of payment for currently outstanding municipal bonds. Those efforts have established a universe of Credits (often referred to as obligors) in the Merritt data set. Merritt takes great care in establishing the association ("link") between an Issue or group of Issues associated with a given Credit. Generally, specific bond issues are linked based on the revenues...

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Category: CreditScope

Blanks versus Zeros

Merritt Research Services aims to provide the most comprehensive collection of data possible. In some instances, however, adequate disclosure has not been provided by the Credit. In those cases, certain data fields will be left blank. Blank data fields are not to be confused with zeros, which indicate a zero balance or value. In addition to insufficient disclosure, fields might also be left blank when data for a particular field is not broken out in enough detail for us to populate the respective field accurately. This situation might arise if a line item on a financial statement is combined...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

The Value of Quality Control

Merritt Research Services has developed strenuous quality control procedures throughout the data gathering, extraction, entry, review and grooming processes. We believe that the reputation of our data relies heavily on the quality control procedures that we employ in each step of the data process. ...Data Gathering Along with audit request letters, Merritt sends a survey requesting key industry accepted operating statistics. To ensure consistency, we include a set of definitions and the prior year's statistics to function as a guideline for the borrower to use when completing the survey...

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Category: Merritt Data

Doing the Math: Total Enrollment and Student Attendance

The Merritt dataset for the School District sector includes two similar, yet distinctive statistics: Total Public School Enrollment and Average Daily Attendance. Their respective values are often close in proximity but their meanings are quite different. Total Public School Enrollment is a literal headcount determined by counting the number of students enrolled in a given school year. Typically, this statistic is gathered in October of each year. Average Daily Attendance is calculated by summing the attendance count for each day of the school year and dividing it by the total number of...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Pension Benefits 101: The Types of Public Employee Pension Plans

Cases of unfunded pension liabilities among state and local government issuers have emphasized the importance of considering pension obligations in the analysis of municipal credits. But not all pension plans are alike, and a clear understanding of the various types of retirement plans can help determine the amount of risk a plan may carry for the underlying credit. Pension plans generally fall into two categories: defined benefit and defined contribution. Governments have traditionally provided the defined benefit plan, which largely calls for the sponsoring government to bear the...

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Category: Accounting

FASB and GASB: Setting the Standards in Financial Reporting

Credits in the CreditScope database follow the financial reporting standards set forth by either the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) or the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Both FASB and GASB are independent organizations that fall under the administration of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), and both are considered the authoritative voice in financial reporting. FASB, established in 1973, provides financial reporting guidelines for nongovernmental entities, including certain not-for-profit entities. GASB, founded in 1984, sets financial reporting...

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Category: Accounting

How Does Merritt Assign a Credit Name?

Merritt utilizes the Name field in CreditScope to identify the most recent audited financial statements that have been standardized into the Credit. Over the years, audit presentations have changed to accommodate entities with a corporate-type structure. For example, a Hospital credit may include affiliates, subsidiaries or related corporations. Naming the Credit to reflect the structure being standardized allows the user to quickly identify the audit presentation that Merritt used to standardize the most recent data provided. How is a Name Change Treated? Clients occasionally inquire...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

Supplemental Credits: What Are They - and Why Should I Care?

The Merritt Credit Universe available to CreditScope Municipal Edition subscribers is currently comprised of 6,300 Merritt Standard Credits and 53,600 Merritt Supplemental Credits. While the Merritt Supplemental Credits do not represent the whole nature of the deliverable credit data set associated with Merritt Standard Credits, they do offer a wealth of valuable information and opportunity. The breadth of our current 6,300 Merritt Standard Credits represents 69% of the current market value of a major municipal bond market index. The combined 59,900-credit Merritt Credit Universe...

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Category: CreditScope, Merritt Data

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