Harford County’s Borrowing Increased With Lower Interest Rates

As reported by the Baltimore Sun, Harford County’s borrowing increased by more than $2,000 per capita over the course of the past decade to build schools, fire houses, park facilities and other public infrastructure projects.

One reason for the growth in per capita debt was a relatively stable population that grew at a rate of fewer than 1,000 residents yearly during the Craig administration. The other reason was the high rate of borrowing, increasing by $520 million in the same period.

As of June 30 this year, the county had outstanding principal and interest on long term debt of $868,899,320, which translates into $3,486.55 for each adult and child resident of the county, with its U.S. Census estimated population of 249,215 in 2013.

While the article compares per capital debt with other jurisdictions, it also points out that other factors need to be considered when making these comparisons.

For one thing, it’s a lot cheaper to borrow in 2014 — which the county did earlier this year to the tune of $40 million at just over 3 percent interest for 20 years — than it was when Craig’s predecessor borrowed nearly $60 million between 2001 and 2002 at rates averaging 4.5 percent.

Much of the county’s older debt was refinanced during the Craig administration at rates averaging 2 to 3 percent, according to the annual financial report for fiscal 2014, a significant long term cost saving.

In addition, Harford’s credit rating improved during the final years of the Craig administration, which also made borrowing cheaper, be it new debt or refinanced old debt.

Harford County’s debt per capita is moderate when compared to Howard and Baltimore Counties’, $5,754.33 and $4,692.52, respectively.

To learn more about managing and financing your counties capital budget, attend the MACo Winter Conference Session titled “Mastering the Mystery of Infrastructure Budgeting.” Speakers will discuss the importance of maintaining infrastructure – creating an infrastructure inventory, setting priorities when building your capital plan, and developing a sound financial approach to pay for it.


  • Robert Slocum, Director, Division of Engineering and Construction Management, Washington County
  • Andrew Kleine, Budget Chief, Baltimore City
  • Nicole Westermann, Public Financial Management

 Date/Time: Thursday, January 8, 2015; 2:15 pm – 3:15 pm

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.