Charles County Gets Triple–A Bond Rating

LA PLATA, Md. (March 30, 2010)—Monday during a press conference, the Charles County Commissioners announced that due to recalibration, as of April 30, the County has been assigned an "AAA with a stable outlook" rating from Fitch Ratings in New York. "AAA" is the highest rating given by the agency. Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned Charles County "Aa2" and "AA and positive outlook" ratings, respectively.

"I am very proud of my fellow Commissioners. They are very fiscally responsible and make sound decisions, and I am proud to work with them. Achieving a triple-A bond rating has been a goal for Charles County for more than 20 years. It has been a great pleasure to obtain this rating with the current Board of Commissioners," said Commissioner President Wayne Cooper.

According to a press release issued by Fitch Ratings, the ratings reflect Charles County's strong and expanding tax base, characterized by sustained growth, a significant military component to the local economy, and robust local wealth and employment levels. The release also states that the County's debt profile is healthy, with a low overall net debt burden and rapid amortization.

Commissioner Reuben B. Collins, II (District 3) said, "This is a major accomplishment for the County that we've maintained our bond ratings in such an unstable economy. The maintenance of our ratings speaks volumes to the stability and fiscal responsibility that the County has displayed over the last several years."

In a press release dated March 25, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services assigned its 'AA' long-term rating, and positive outlook, to Charles County. According to Standard & Poor's, the rating continues to reflect the County's primarily residential and rural property tax base, stabilized by U.S. Navy operations and military-related services; ongoing economic development projects; very strong wealth and income levels and historically below-average unemployment; still-solid financial position despite its near-term budget challenges; and low debt burden with a manageable capital improvement plan.

"It's a great time to be a part of Charles County Government. Being rewarded the triple-A bond rating in these tough economic times is a testimony to hard work and effective management practices of Charles County employees," said Commissioner Samuel N. Graves, Jr. (District 1). "The rating is also confirmation that we've made the right decision to continue providing services to the citizens despite the economic downturn. It remains our highest priority to ensure that these services continue."

In its ratings report to the County, Moody's Investors Service noted that their "Aa2" rating reflects the County's "satisfactory" financial position, which is characterized by comprehensive fiscal policies and planning, narrowing fund balance levels, and an affordable debt position. The rating also considers recent expansion of the County's economic and employment base and prospects for continued growth of the science and technology sector.

"Today's independent, objective evaluation by Wall Street that Charles County is deserving of a triple-A bond rating thrusts us into the vanguard if Maryland's leading counties and confirms the wisdom of the conservation fiscal policies that have been implemented by this Board of Commissioners," said Commissioner Gary V. Hodge (District 4).

"The presentation for New York is a team effort and the staff worked hard. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all those who contributed to our success," said Charles County Department of Fiscal & Administrative Services Director Deborah Hudson. "Our presentation was an honest representation of the current economy in Charles County. Although many factors remain strong, we have felt the downturn in our revenues and State cuts passed through to the Counties. We demonstrated fiscal responsibility by making cuts when necessary, maintaining appropriate levels of fund balance and continuing our economic development goals. Although these have been challenging times for all governments, Charles County has remained committed to balancing its budget and planning for the future. I am pleased with the ratings that we received in New York and excited that we have been able to achieve a triple-A rating through recalibration."

Source: Charles County Commissioners

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