Fitch Ratings, S&P Global Ratings, and Moody’s Investors Service assigned AA+ and Aa1 ratings to St. Mary’s County’s 2022 series of general obligation bonds, deeming its fiscal outlook stable.
The AA+ and Aa1 ratings keep borrowing costs low for capital projects and reflect the County’s sound fiscal policies, prudent long-range planning, and robust economy. In addition, Fitch and S&P affirmed the County’s AA+ rating on outstanding general obligation (GO) bonds.
On July 26, the County will sell $30 million of consolidated public improvement tax-exempt bonds. The bonds are a GO of the County, secured by its full-faith-and-credit pledge. Bond proceeds will finance various capital projects.
“The AA+ and Aa1 ratings confirm the sound financial policies St. Mary’s County Government has adhered to and put the county in a strong financial position for the future,” said Commissioner President Randy Guy. “Low debt and strong financial management have allowed us to enjoy high credit ratings, which, in turn, give our residents peace of mind knowing their tax dollars are effectively managed.”
According to a County press release:
Key Factors mentioned by all three rating agencies include:
1 – Strong Financial Position – low debt, strong cash balances and increased fund balance reserves.
2 – County’s employment and large growing tax base remain solid – durable local economy with consistent growth anchored by Pax River Naval Air Base.
3 – Budget Flexibility with low property and income tax rates and low fixed costs for debt and retiree benefits.
4 – Formalized policies – fund balance, multi-year budget for operating and capital, below debt affordability measures.
5 – Conservative budgeting – pace of spending growth is in line with revenue growth, fund balance used for non-recurring expenditures – consistent with policy.