GWINNETT EARNS TOP MARKS FROM RATINGS AGENCIES AGAIN
(Lawrenceville, Ga., Sept. 25, 2020) – Gwinnett’s management and financial policies served as the basis for receiving AAA bond ratings from all three bond-rating agencies, a distinction the County has held for over 20 years. The highest possible ratings allow the County to borrow money and refinance bonds at favorable interest rates, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in future interest payments.
Financial Services Director Buffy Alexzulian said new bond issues will be used to begin developing the new Rowen research park, to fund new construction for the Infinite Energy Center expansion and to refinance existing debt.
“Another way at looking at the County’s AAA rating is that we will save about $12.7 million in additional interest payments on the new issues over what they would have cost with an A rating,” said Alexzulian. “Going back to 1998 when the County was first rated AAA, the savings total more than $138 million.”
The latest ratings came in September after the County’s finances went through intense review by analysts from S&P Global, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. Triple AAA bond ratings put Gwinnett in the top two percent with 48 others out of more than 3,000 American counties.
“Since 2011, our total estimated debt service savings from refinancing total more than $108 million in interest, which demonstrates that we’re managing the County’s finances very well and not leaving money on the table,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash. “Our credit ratings and subsequent interest savings is a reflection of the County’s strong financial position bolstered by sound management decisions and solid financial policies.”
S&P Global Ratings said in their report, “Gwinnett County’s strong management team and conservative planning practices led to recurring surplus operating results and a robust reserve position… which we believe will help insulate the county’s credit profile through the recession.” S&P’s report went on to say that Gwinnett County’s “bonds are eligible for a rating above the sovereign [U.S. Treasury obligations] because we believe the county can maintain better credit characteristics than the nation in a stress scenario.”
Fitch said their AAA ratings “are supported by the county’s strong revenue and expenditure flexibility, the maintenance of healthy reserves, and low long-term liability burdens.”
Moody’s Investors Service Aaa rating “reflects the county’s large and growing tax base outside Atlanta, strong financial position and manageable long-term liabilities and fixed costs.” Further, Moody’s stable outlook for the rating “reflects our expectation that the county’s base will continue to expand given strong permitting activity, recent development announcements, and proximity to Atlanta.”