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For the first time ever the New York bond rating agency FitchRatings, bestowed the highest possible AAA rating for Queen Anne’s County.
Recently, the county’s Finance Director Jonathan Seeman, County Administrator Gregg Todd, and County Commissioner Stephen Wilson went to New York City to present their case for a higher bond rating to the two major rating firms Fitch and Moody’s.
The county is went to the bond markets to finance $12.6 million in long-term capital debt such as the new Circuit Court House, school building improvements, and the purchase of heavy equipment, such as that used to clear the roads of snow.
“Fitch gave us AAA, but Moody’s kept us at Aa2, which is two steps below AAA. We’ll keep trying,” said Seeman. “You have to remember, that after the recession, only a few years ago, when we had no Rainy Day fund, we were rated AA+, but with a negative outlook, by both agencies. Getting the AAA is quite an accomplishment for the county.”
“Since then, we’ve shown that the county commissioners have restored the county to sound fiscal management, with stable revenue growth, above average reserves, and relatively low levels of debt. With this rating from Fitch, we’ve joined an elite group of AAA rated counties in Maryland as well as the State of Maryland government, that have this rating ,” Seeman said.
Just like a homeowner whose credit score has improved and therefore is offered a lower interest rate by the banks, the Bond Market will give Queen Anne’s County a much better interest rate, saving millions of dollars over the life of the bonds.
Seeman said Fitch complimented our management and the commissioners were recognized for sound financial practices. He said the county commissioners earned this higher rating by adopting conservative budgets and keeping spending at a reasonable level. The commissioners also appointed a Spending Affordability Committee whose members have earned professional recognition in the area of finance.
On the Affordability Committee’s recommendation the county commissioners increased the Rainy Day Fund from 7 to 8 percent of the annual budget and also established a Revenue Stabilization Fund equal to 5 percent of the budget.
This equates to the county having savings accounts in which they deposit 13 percent of the annual budget amount.