Bond ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service show Snohomish County’s financial position improving along with the regional economy.
Standard & Poor’s affirmed its stable AA rating while Moody’s upgraded the county’s bonding position based on signs of regional economic recovery and Snohomish County’s ability to manage within its means and maintain a steady fund balance.
“We have worked hard to maintain a balanced budget, grow our rainy day fund and position Snohomish County to invest in new opportunities,” said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “These bond ratings reflect the steps we have taken to put Snohomish County in a position to grow despite the national recession that has plagued us since 2008.”
With discussions over the 2013 budget near, Reardon also said it’s important that Snohomish County continue to hold the line on spending.
“Maintaining a healthy fund balance and keeping spending low is critical to improving our already good rating,” he said.
Strong bond ratings allow the county to sell bonds at a lower cost, saving the county millions of dollars in interest payments.
Moody’s said its decision to upgrade the county’s bond status reflects the “county’s large tax base and regionally important economy, which is in the beginning stages of recovery.”
“The stable outlook reflects indications that the recovery of the county’s sizeable economy will continue,” the investment company wrote.
Standard & Poor’s decision was based on the county’s “diverse local economy” and “historically strong reserve levels.”
“We consider the county’s financial policies and practices ‘strong’ under our financial management assessment (FMA) methodology.”
Snohomish County will use the ratings to refinance a series of long-term bonds at a lower interest rate, saving the county’s general fund hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years. Proceeds also will provide long-term financing for a new solid-waste operations station and the Dreamlifter Operations Center. Snohomish County will repay the debt on the center from lease payments from Boeing for use of Paine Field.