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Howard County earns AAA rating from all three bond rating agencies

Howard County earns AAA rating from all three bond rating agencies

March 4, 2016

Media Contacts:
Andy Barth, Press Secretary, 410-313-2132 (o), 410-303-2039 (c)
Stan Milesky, Director, Department of Finance, 410-313-2195

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman announced today that the County has received a AAA credit rating, the highest possible score, from all three major bond ratings agencies. Kittleman, Council Chairperson Dr. Calvin Ball, Councilmember Greg Fox and other County officials met with representative of the bond rating agencies in February.

Moody’s Investor Services, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s have each recognized the County’s strong financial policies and practices, vibrant economy and diverse revenue streams in awarding their top rating. Howard County is one of just 44 counties among the more than 3,000 in the United States to earn a Triple-A rating from all three agencies.

“Our AAA bond rating is a testament to the success of our strong financial management and sustainable policies,” said Kittleman. “The ratings agencies recognize our commitment to our shared priorities of education, public safety, infrastructure and economic development while ensuring that we maintain a strong fiscal footing.”

“These agencies carefully examined the County’s tax base, financial policies, modest debt burden and projected growth,” said Stanley Milesky, Howard County’s Director of Finance. “The rating agencies heard from the County Executive about our commitment to sustain our steady growth while maintaining the services and infrastructure that make our County so successful.”

“Howard County has long remained a leader in securing our fiscal future. We continue to demonstrate our commitment to sound financial reporting and accounting practices and I’m thrilled the County has once again achieved the excellence of a Triple-A bond rating,” commented Dr. Ball. “This rating translates into savings to the County through lower interest rates by giving assurances to large institutional buyers of our bonds that we have our fiscal house in order and County bonds are a relatively low risk, safe investment.”

Each rating agency issued a report explaining the AAA rating and describing Howard County’s strengths:

Fitch noted Howard’s “Strong financial management” and “Stable wealthy economic base…” The County has “low levels of unemployment and robust economic indicators.”

Standard and Poor’s praised the County’s “Very strong economy…very strong management…and very strong liquidity.”

Moody’s lauded Howard County’s “prudent management practices,” “conservative budgeting” and “strong demographics.”

A Triple-A rating means that Howard County can issue debt for capital projects at the most favorable interest rates available, which results in savings for taxpayers compared to lower graded bonds.

“I stressed to the rating agencies that we are committed to ensuring that the County continues to grow and that our current and future spending will preserve our fiscal stability,” added Kittleman, who recently directed all County Departments to submit realistic five-year plans for their Department’s Capital Improvement Program. Kittleman also reduced the County’s total overall General Obligation Bond issuance from $119.7 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to $95.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016 in order to keep debt payments at an affordable level.