County receives its first triple-A bond rating

March 23, 2007|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,sun reporter

In a sign of a strengthening local economy, Anne Arundel County yesterday received its first triple-A bond rating from Wall Street firm Standard & Poor's.

The two other major bonds rating agencys, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, each maintained their second-highest rating for the county, at Aa1 and AA+, respectively.

Typically, a higher bond rating translates into lower interest rates in financing capital projects.

The county yesterday announced a bond sale of $138.4 million, mostly for road, water and sewer improvements. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. earned the winning bid with an interest rate of 4.076 percent.

The announcement of the three ratings firms comes a week after county officials made their pitch to bond analysts in New York.

Analysts pointed to several factors in giving the county high marks: a county umemployment rate that hovers around 3 percent, a rainy-day fund of about $43 million, and the practice of using budget surpluses to pay for one-time capital projects as opposed to expanding its operating expenses.

They also noted a major military expansion at Fort Meade that will bring at least 12,000 jobs there over the next five years.phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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