In April, 2010 Moody’s Investor Service upgraded the County’s credit rating, awarding the county it’s first-ever Aaa rating, the highest issued by Moody’s. Yesterday, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services raised its rating on Bucks County, from AA+ to AAA, their highest rating. Standard & Poor’s based their decision on the county’s “very strong economic profile, very strong budgetary flexibility and a strong management team.”
The county now has AAA ratings from two of the largest credit rating agencies in the country. Bucks County is one of three AAA rated counties in the state, and is among a select group of counties in the country that have two AAA ratings. When announcing the news, Brian Hessenthaler, COO stated, “This has been a multi-year effort to get here, and we would like to thank the Commissioners, Division Leaders, Department Heads, Row Officers, and Courts for all their work and dedication.” He added that Director of Finance and Administration David Boscola took the lead and did a great job securing the upgraded rating.
“This is a significant achievement that doesn’t happen overnight,” stated Commissioner Chairman Robert Loughery, after thanking those involved. “It’s been a process; its sticking with discipline and procedures and policies we have put into place. We were ecstatic when we received the AAA rating from Moody’s and always thought Standard and Poor’s would stay as it was. But we proved that wrong, and that is great news for the county, and the taxpayers and residents of Bucks County.”
In their report S & P cited the strong local economy with a diverse property tax base, dedicated county management, solid financial practices and budgeting procedures that take into account short-term and long term challenges and conservative investment policies as being key factors in the change in rating. The report also noted the budgetary flexibility of the county, with available reserves at 23.8% of operating expenses, a number that is budgeted to slightly increase by the end of the fiscal year.
“All of the hard work the staff has put in has paid off by achieving this AAA rating which will ultimately benefit the taxpayers of the County by lowering our cost of borrowing,” said Commissioner Charles Martin.
With 37 % of total government funds expenditures and 5.3x debt service coverage, S & P considers Bucks County to have strong liquidity, having a good access to capital markets if necessary. Between the liquidity and the manageable debt profile, S & P sees the continuation of the AAA rating very likely.