County Executive Leggett Hails Triple-A Bond Rating (VIDEO)

Good news: The county has maintained its Triple-A bond rating. Lorna Virgili reports.

County Executive Ike Leggett has announced that Montgomery County has maintained its Triple-A bond rating from three Wall Street bond rating agencies, just a week after Leggett led a group of County officials, including Council President Craig Rice, to meet with the agencies to brief Wall Street on the County’s fiscal situation and future plans.

Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all affirmed the “AAA” rating – the highest achievable — for the County. They all termed the outlook for Montgomery County as “stable.”

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring the lowest possible costs in those areas as well.

“What is remarkable about this is that Montgomery County has continued to receive a Triple-A bond rating from all three bond rating agencies even during these past few years when other jurisdictions – including the federal government – were seeing downgrades and despite federal shutdowns, budget sequestrations and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” said Leggett.

“Our ability to maintain our coveted Triple-A rating affirms my approach to putting the County’s fiscal house in order and reducing unsustainable increases in County spending, while investing in making government more effective and creating opportunities for the growth of good jobs in the future.

“We have boosted our reserves to the most ever, closed nearly $3 billion in budget gaps, made tough choices on spending, and saved millions for taxpayers with changes in County health and retirement benefits. Montgomery County has weathered the downturn and the investments we made during the toughest of times are enabling us to create more jobs and opportunity.”

“Working together in partnership, the County Executive and the County Council have made sure of strong County fiscal stewardship,” said Council President Craig Rice. “That is the foundation upon which we are building an even brighter future.”

The bond rating agencies underlined the County’s successful approach.

“Despite the 2013 federal government shutdown and sequestration, we note that the county did not experience significant disruptions to its financial performance due to, what we consider the diversity of its revenue base and its strong management practices,” wrote Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.

“Montgomery County continues to exhibit a very impressive economic profile,” wrote Fitch Ratings. “The County has gained employment each year between 2010 and 2013…Montgomery County has a sophisticated management team that uses conservative budgeting and established debt and reserve policies that have resulted in healthy reserve and liquidity levels.”

“The stable outlook reflects the county’s improved financial position that is supported by structurally balanced budgets and increased reserves,” wrote Moody’s.

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