QA’s given first­time AAA rat­ing

Record Observer - - News -

CENTREVILLE — Of­fi­cials from Queen Anne’s County went up to New York in Fe­bru­ary seek­ing to fi­nance $12.6 mil­lion for long-term cap­i­tal projects and came back with a AAA rat­ing, the first time that’s ever hap­pened for the county.

The New York bond rat­ing agency Fitch Rat­ings gave the county the high­est pos­si­ble rat­ing be­cause of the sound fis­cal man­age­ment, sta­ble rev­enue growth and above av­er­age re­serves, Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Jonathan See­man said.

“Fitch gave us AAA but Moody’s kept us at Aa2, which is two steps be­low AAA. We’ll keep try­ing,” See­man said. “You have to re­mem­ber, that after the re­ces­sion, only a few years ago, when we had no Rainy Day fund, we were rated AA+, but with a neg­a­tive out­look by both agen­cies. Get­ting the AAA is quite an ac­com­plish­ment for the county.”

The bor­rowed money will be used to fund a laun­dry list of projects for the new cir­cuit court­house, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and ve­hi­cle up­grades.

“The ac­tion that this body has taken in con­junc­tion with the good staff work and sup­port has lead us to a very good con­clu­sion that can only have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the in­ter­est that we might have to pay on any bond we might sell,” Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son said.

The list of projects is as fol­lows: new cir­cuit court­house, $5 mil­lion; an­i­mal health lab ren­o­va­tions, $50,000; au­to­ma­tion, up­dates and GASB im­ple­men­ta­tions, $500,000; sher­iff ve­hi­cles, $471,852; am­bu­lance, $257,250; de­ten­tion cen­ter se­cu­rity sys­tems and equip­ment, $35,000; IT in­fra­struc­ture, $250,000; trans­fer sta­tion im­prove­ments, $50,000; solid waste, heavy equip­ment, $150,000; Gra­sonville El­e­men­tary School ad­di­tion, $445,737; Board of Ed­u­ca­tion se­cu­rity up­grades, $209,000; gen­eral build­ing im­prove­ments, $300,000; Board of Ed­u­ca­tion equip­ment and ve­hi­cles, $374,000; Church Hill El­e­men­tary School roof, $152,000; parks and recre­ation cap­i­tal equip­ment, $324,000; ma­jor parks main­te­nance, $200,000; heavy con­struc­tion ve­hi­cle and roads pav­ing and resur­fac­ing to­tal, $2,927,950; and cross county con­nec­tor trail, $800,000.

The money will be used for pur­chases, re­pairs, de­signs and per­mit­ting fees. All of the projects were ap­proved in the county’s Fis­cal Year 2017 cap­i­tal bud­get last spring. Dur­ing the county’s Jan. 24 meet­ing it re­viewed the cap­i­tal projects list and made no last minute al­ter­ations.

“It’s not a very unique list,” See­man said dur­ing the Jan. 24 meet­ing re­gard­ing the projects. “I mean, these are the kinds of things that we try to do each year just to keep us up to date.”

See­man said Fitch Rat­ings com­pli­mented the county’s man­age­ment of adopt­ing con­ser­va­tive bud­gets and keep­ing spend­ing at a rea­son­able level. The Spend­ing Af­ford­abil­ity Com­mit­tee, which the com­mis­sion­ers ap­pointed, gave rec­om­men­da­tions to the county to in­crease the Rainy Day Fund from seven to eight per­cent of the an­nual bud­get and to also es­tab­lish a Rev­enue Sta­bi­liza­tion Fund equal to five per­cent of the bud­get.

This equates to the county hav­ing sav­ings ac­counts in which it de­posits 13 per­cent of the an­nual bud­get amount.

The com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved Res­o­lu­tion 17-07 dur­ing its Tues­day, Feb. 28, that au­tho­rized the is­suance and sale of gen­eral obli­ga­tion bonds not to ex­ceed $13 mil­lion. The res­o­lu­tion sets the ba­sic bond terms, pro­vides the no­tice of sale for per­spec­tive bid­ders and au­tho­rizes the com­mis­sion pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of fi­nance the au­thor­ity to award the bonds, the county’s bond coun­sel said.

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