Moody’s, Fitch Reaffirm Washington County’s Strong Credit Ratings

Today, two major credit rating agencies affirmed Washington County’s strong bond ratings in advance of an upcoming sale of $16.4 million of public improvement bonds.

Moody’s Investor Service affirmed the County’s Aa1 rating, while Fitch Ratings affirmed its AA+ rating. The ratings keep borrowing costs low for capital projects and reflect the County’s sound fiscal policies, prudent long-range planning, and robust economy.

The County expects the bonds to sell on May 24, 2022, via competitive bid. Proceeds from the bond sale will finance various capital projects throughout the County, including ongoing road and bridge projects, educational projects, and a significant environmental project that will provide capacity relief and facilitate economic growth in Hagerstown.

According to the Moody’s analysis:

The Aa1 rating reflects the county’s large and growing tax base that serves as an employment and commercial center to the tri-state region, which encompasses northwestern Maryland (Aaa stable), West Virginia (Aa2 stable), and southern Pennsylvania (Aa3 stable). The rating incorporates the county’s average resident income indices that have declined modestly, and a healthy financial position that is expected to remain strong given solid growth in operating revenues and the county’s comprehensive fiscal policies and long term financial planning. The rating also incorporates the county’s moderate debt and pension liabilities.

According to the Fitch Ratings analysis:

The ‘AA+’ rating reflects Fitch’s expectation that the county will maintain a high level of financial flexibility through economic cycles supported by its highest level of gap-closing capacity, including a solid level of expenditure control and strong ability to raise revenues. The county’s burden associated with debt and retiree benefits is low as a percentage of personal income and is expected to remain low based on manageable debt issuance plans and a practice of fully funding the required pension contributions.

Read the complete analyses from Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch Ratings for more information.

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