Montgomery County bonds have again been deemed the soundest investment possible, one of the few county governments nationwide to receive a AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies, officials announced last week.
The top-tier rating means the county will find better interest rates on its capital borrowing.
The announcement comes after County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and County Council President Roger Berliner (D) met with representatives of the bond rating agencies in New York last month, reported Bethesda Now.
Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's cited the strength of the county’s economic base, as well as steps taken to right the fiscal imbalance that emerged as revenues fell off during the most recent recession, according to a county statement.
Under Leggett, the six operating budgets from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2012 closed shortfalls of more than $2.6 billion and eliminated more than 1,200 employees, nearly 10 percent of the county government’s workforce. The fiscal 2013 budget passed this summer boosts spending by $200 million, up to $4.57 billion.
"We are successfully rebuilding our financial foundation and are on the right path to fiscal sustainability," Leggett said in a statement. "We continue to make the hard choices necessary to put ourselves on a much stronger fiscal footing, lowering our revenue estimates to reflect economic conditions and building our revenue base by planning for growth and attracting businesses and jobs. … Our challenges remain, but the decisions today by the bond rating agencies show that Montgomery County is on the right track."
Thirty-seven other counties—out of more than 3,000—nationwide received top marks from the three agencies, according to county officials. Montgomery County has held its AAA rating for more than a decade. That record was nearly marred in 2010, when Moody’s put Montgomery on a “watch list” before deeming the county “stable” that spring, The Gazette reported.
This year’s bond offering of $319 million will go on sale Oct. 10. The first series of bonds will total $295 million, the proceeds of which will go toward capital projects, reported Reuters. The second series will total $24 million, to help pay down debt service on General Obligation bonds and lease revenue bonds issued by the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, according to Reuters.