Ike Leggett interviewed on "One on One"

Montgomery County Retains Bond Ratings

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today (Sept. 27) announced that Montgomery County has retained its AAA bond rating from all three bond rating agencies — Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s – the highest possible rating.

Among other accomplishments, the rating agencies cited the county’s economic base and strong financial management including measures taken to reverse a former structural imbalance that occurred, in part, due to weakened revenues during the recession.

Montgomery County is one of only 38 counties (out of 3,140) in the U.S. to receive a AAA rating from all three rating agencies.

The AAA bond rating allows Montgomery County to issue bonds for its capital borrowing at the most favorable rates, saving county taxpayers millions of dollars a year, according to a news release issued by county officials. The AAA rating applies to $295 million in General Obligation bonds and $24 million in General Obligation Refunding bonds the county is issuing Wednesday, October 10.

“With the tough decisions and actions the County has taken during my administration, we are successfully rebuilding our financial foundation and are on the right path to fiscal sustainability,” said Leggett in the press release. “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.”

“I am gratified that the rating agencies recognize the work our Council and County Executive have done to put our county on a sustainable fiscal path,” said County Council President Roget Berliner. “It took hard work and sacrifice by our employees and our residents to secure this seal of approval and lower cost financing.”

“Over the past six years, we’ve closed $2.6 billion in budget gaps and slowed the rate of growth in expenditures,” said Leggett. “We have successfully replenished fund balances and reserves in the General and Revenue Stabilization funds, achieved our policy level on PAYGO, set aside money for storm and snow removal, and doubled the amount of funds set aside for pre-funding retiree health benefits.

“To help avoid any future structural deficits, we have scaled back government, reducing over 1,200 positions, put in place permanent, recurring reductions in long term costs for employee compensation and pensions and further cut costs through savings plans in fiscal years 2008 through 2011.

“These changes were critical to continuing the work I began when first elected to put the county’s fiscal house in order and reduce unsustainable spending. The economic downturn made that work even more critical.

“Montgomery County has many strengths and I believe our future is bright if we continue to invest in economic development opportunities, exercise the fiscal discipline that has reined in spending. We must maintain the sense of urgency that has compelled us to continue sober and serious fiscal planning, creating long-lasting solutions that are creating a stronger fiscal outlook.

“Our challenges remain, but the decisions today by the bond rating agencies show that Montgomery County is on the right track.”

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