ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced Howard County will maintain the highest possible credit rating, AAA, from all three bond rating agencies - Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s. In 2023, Howard County again ranks among the top two percent of counties nationwide to earn this vote of confidence based on a stable outlook from experts. Being one of 51 counties with this distinction among approximately 3,100 in the U.S. demonstrates that Howard County’s financial management is fiscally strong, trustworthy, and responsible.
While other counties across the nation struggle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard County builds momentum from our strength as responsible stewards of our public dollars. Howard County’s job growth is nearly three times the state average, and more businesses are launching here, expanding here, or relocating here. We are in the very small number of counties that have earned this coveted AAA Bond Rating because we continue to make strategic decisions to secure our present and future.
"As the incoming Chief Administrative Officer, I am humbled to help lead such a legacy of financial excellence, stability and thoughtful planning," said Brandee Ganz, Acting Chief Administrative Officer. “The whole team is credited with not only keeping us on a solid track but providing the insight to allow us to weather the ups and downs of pandemics and any other economic factors that arise.”
After evaluating financial criteria including Economy/Tax base, Finances, Management, and Debt/Pensions, each agency issued a report that highlights Howard County’s strengths.
Standard & Poor’s noted, “The county is a desirable affluent community with a very strong economy, supported by a well-educated population, wealthy property tax base, and high household incomes, with access to the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). In our opinion, these factors, along with stable financial operations and very strong management, including comprehensive policies and practices that have allowed the county to weather several economic downturns, underpin the 'AAA' rating. The county continues to experience strong economic growth, which has helped bolster its financial position and reserves. Similar to prior years, the county remains committed to maintaining balanced budgets using conservative assumptions and adhering to its many formal fiscal policies.”
Moody’s highlighted, “The stable outlook reflects the expectation that the county's economy will continue to see growth while its reserves remain healthy.”
Fitch cited the county’s, “high level of financial flexibility throughout economic cycles, consistent with a long history of sound operating performance and healthy reserves. The county maintains superior inherent budget flexibility in the form of an unlimited legal ability to raise revenues and solid expenditure flexibility. The county's financial profile also reflects strong revenue growth prospects from a growing property tax base.”
“It takes ongoing effort, a solid foundation and responsible policies to stay at this level of performance and consistently achieve top recognition from experts,” said Howard County Director of Finance Rafiu Ighile. “We do not take this affirmation for granted or underestimate how important it is to our ongoing success. I am so thankful to all the staff for their hard work and commitment to keeping us a secure investment for the future.”