ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced today that the County has received an unmodified (“clean”) opinion on financial statements issued for Fiscal Year 2021. An unmodified opinion certifies that the County’s financial statements fairly present the financial position and respective changes in financial position in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted nationally.
This unmodified opinion builds on the County’s nationally recognized reputation for its sound fiscal management practices, which have garnered the GFOA’s (Government Finance Officers Association) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 45 consecutive years.
In February, the County received an AAA bond rating, the highest possible credit rating issued by bond rating agencies, for a 24th consecutive year. This rating affirms the County’s ability to pay its debts and provide taxpayers the lowest possible interest rates when repaying bonds sold by the County. Out of the more than 3,100 counties in the nation, Howard County is one of just 49 counties to receive an AAA bond rating from all three bond rating agencies.
In addition, the County received the GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for a 27th consecutive year, certifying that the County’s annual budget document was proficient as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide and as a communications device.
The past year has been filled with uncertainty and unknowns, especially when it comes to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Receiving an unmodified opinion and the improvement in our County’s overall financial position affirms the fiscal stewardship and responsibility Howard County has demonstrated throughout the past year. I want to thank and acknowledge our entire finance and budget teams for their guidance throughout this challenging fiscal time. As we set our sights on our economic road to recovery, our County’s fiscal practices remain healthy, flexible, and sound.
Significant financial highlights contained in the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report include a $193.7 million increase in County Government’s total net position, driven by a $77.7 million increase in total general revenues. Specific sources of revenue growth include a $41.6 million income tax revenue increase due to the federal stimulus, a $29.7 million property tax revenue increase due to rising property values, and a $5.0 million recordation tax revenue increase due to low interest rates.
Additionally, the fund balance of the County’s general fund grew by $127.6 million over last year, reaching a total of $336.1 million. Of the $336.1 million in fund balance for the County’s general fund, just $24.5 million will remain unassigned, with the balance designated as non-spendable, committed, or assigned.