Press Release (ePRNews.com) - HAGERSTOWN, Maryland - May 05, 2016 - Washington County, Maryland Government has maintained strong ratings with all three major rating agencies. Standard & Poor’s assigned a ′AA+′ rating to the County’s 2016 public improvement and refunding general obligation (GO) bonds while the County maintained their ‘AA+’ rating with Fitch for GO bonds. Additionally, the County maintained their ′Aa1′ Moody’s rating. Concurrently, Moody’s has affirmed the ′Aa1′ rating on the County’s outstanding GO debt.
“Maintaining our high credit ratings is significant because it shows the County has managed our finances in a way that we contained our operating expenses, our borrowing has been at reasonable levels and we have used the resources the County has to maximize efficiencies.”
Gregory B. Murray, County Administrator
The ‘AA+’ rating reflects the County’s solid resource base that has yielded a strong financial profile, favorable debt position and affordable other long-term liabilities. The County’s proven history of holding spending below revenues during and after the recession marks either breakeven or surplus operating results.
An economic decline scenario analysis shows an operating reserve cushion that Fitch judges to be consistent with an ‘AAA’ financial resilience assessment. Moreover, Fitch expects that in the event of such an actual revenue decline, the county would continue to maintain reserves at a significantly higher level through active expenditure management.
Moody’s affirmed their ‘Aa1’ due to the County’s strong management with sound fiscal policies, stable financial operations with strong liquidity and sizeable tax base that serves as the regional economic center. The County’s financial strength is derived from a policy requirement to maintain prescribed levels in all funds.
Standard & Poor’s
According to Standard & Poor’s, their rating reflects a strong economy, with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan statistical area; very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment methodology; and a very strong institutional framework score.
“Maintaining our high credit ratings is significant because it shows the County has managed our finances in a way that we contained our operating expenses, our borrowing has been at reasonable levels and we have used the resources the County has to maximize efficiencies,” said County Administrator, Gregory B. Murray.
The County has maintained low debt levels through use of pay-go funding and prudent analysis of capital needs in the context of debt affordability guidelines. Additionally, the County’s strong financial management practices have resulted in healthy reserve levels which provide a sound financial platform.
The rating agencies noted that the County prudently maintains debt affordability guidelines and will adjust future borrowing to remain in compliance. The guidelines show conservative debt per capita and debt service as a percentage of general fund revenues targets, and debt statistics remain in-line with those guidelines. The County’s debt structure is conservative with all debt in fixed-rate mode and no exposure to swaps or derivatives.
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