Rating agencies reaffirm Gwinnett’s Triple-AAA– August 16, 2012
Gwinnett County officials learned on August 16 that Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings have reaffirmed the government’s AAA credit rating with a stable outlook. Taking advantage of low interest rates, the County refunded a 2003 general obligation bond that paid for construction of the jail expansion. At an interest rate of less than one percent, the refund will save $2.2 million in interest over the life of the bond, according to Finance Director Maria Woods.
Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said, “This is great news. Gwinnett County’s sound financial management over the long-term has paid off once again with tangible results. I am pleased that we can reduce debt payments and save taxpayer dollars.”
Gwinnett County has held the highest bond rating since 1997. The three rating agencies also reaffirmed the top rating on other Gwinnett County debt, including $969.5 million in water and sewer bonds and $94.7 million in Development Authority bonds.
Moody’s cited Gwinnett’s “strong fiscal management of the county as evidenced by ample reserves and demonstrated commitment toward maintaining its financial position.” The agency’s report also said “the favorable operations are due to conservative budgetary assumptions resulting in significant favorable variances in both revenues and expenditures, diligent budget monitoring, and proactive multi-year forecasting.”
According to Standard and Poor’s, the agency’s rating reflects the county’s “good financial management policies and practices and moderate overall debt levels, with no plans for additional new debt.” The report went on to say “the county was able to generate these strong results … from conservative budgeting of its tax digest reductions, position vacancies, savings from limited capital contributions, and other departmental reductions.”
Fitch noted in its report that Gwinnett County’s position in a regional economic and employment center was one of the key drivers for its rating. The report said “the regional economy remains well positioned for growth over the long term, benefiting from solid in-migration patterns, a well-educated workforce, a large and diverse economy, and below-average living costs.”