The Board of Commissioners for St. Mary's County announces to the citizens that they will enjoy the benefits of a lower interest rate on bonds sold Tuesday, March 8, 2005. The County sold $16.3 million in general obligation bonds at an interest rate of 3.943243%. This rate is lower than the very competitive rate that was obtained in 2003 and is among the lowest for County government. The bond proceeds are used to fund 20 different capital projects. School projects lead the list, accounting for 67%, or $10.9 million. Other projects funded with these bonds include Lexington Manor, the Fire & Rescue Revolving Fund, the Northern Senior Center, Chaptico Park, and the Leonardtown Wharf.
Each of the three firms that provide reports on the County's financial standing affirmed the County's solid credit ratings based on such observations as a diversified economy, pro-active debt management polices, and an experienced and cohesive management team. Standard and Poor's assigned a AA- rating with a Positive Outlook, Fitch Ratings affirmed its AA rating, with an outlook of Stable, and Moody's assigned a Aa3 rating.
"These ratings and the low interest rate mean that we are making tremendous progress for the citizens of St. Mary's County, said Thomas F. McKay, President, St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners. Prudent fiscal management is a vital component of County government and we continue to be dedicated to providing that for the citizens."
Seven competitive bids were received for the bonds, with the award made to Legg Mason Wood Walker, Inc., which offered the lowest true interest rate of 3.943243%. This competitive rate reflects the rating agencies' assessment of the County's condition. All three of the rating agencies cited the County's proactive approach to addressing the issues associated with Patuxent River and BRAC, including the establishment of the Economic Stabilization Reserve. The agencies view the County's debt management and affordability policies and practices quite favorably, noting not only the rapid amortization of debt but also that the debt affordability measures are fully incorporated into its multi-year planning process.
The Board of County Commissioners traveled to New York in February to make presentations to the three major bond-rating agencies. Recognizing that the rating agencies appreciate the significance of Pax River and the upcoming BRAC to St. Mary's County, the presentation highlighted the accomplishments made since the 7-point plan was adopted, including the St. Mary's County Bridge to Excellence, which provides a five-year funding commitment to the Board of Education. The presentation also included a strong case for the County's healthy economy and diversification efforts, supported by strong fiscal management.