Spokane County Scores Ace on Credit Report | Washington

(The Center Square) — Spokane County received confirmation this week that it retained the second-highest bond rating in the state, trailing only King County.

Officials announced Friday that the county is retaining its AA+ from S&P Global Ratings and Aa1 from Moody’s Investors Service, which translates into lower interest rates on the county’s debt.

Moody’s initially released its highest rating for the county in 2017 and the S&P in 2019, according to spokesman Jared Webley.

Both companies issue scores intended to portray the borrower’s general creditworthiness and the entity’s ability to make interest payments. These ratings are closely watched by many investors.

County Commissioner Mary Kuney led meetings with rating agencies, which she said on Friday provided a full and complete picture of local budget management and investments in the economy.

“The county’s ability to maintain this rating demonstrates our commitment to our constituents to lead a fiscally responsible government with an emphasis on maintaining solvent reserves,” she said in a written statement.

Gary Petrovich, senior director of the county’s office of finance and administration, offered additional perspective on the value of odds.

“I commend the county commissioners, leadership and staff for implementing sound county financial policies,” he said. “Without their diligence, maintaining this rating would not have been possible.”

The Moody’s report highlights that Spokane County received the highest rating due to its demonstrated stability in managing approximately $178 million of outstanding limited general tax liabilities.

“The stable outlook reflects the likelihood that the county’s financial position will remain strong for the rating level, underpinned by a demonstrated history of strong operating performance,” said the report prepared by Joseph Manoleas, Moody’s senior analyst for the West region. “The Aa1 issuer rating reflects the large and growing tax base of the county which serves as a regional economic center for eastern Washington and northern Idaho. The county boasts a sizable health care and higher education presence, as well as a large and growing air force base.

He added: “Reserve and liquidity levels are healthy after six years of annual operating surpluses. Debt and pension liabilities are modest as the county has limited additional debt plans and pension liabilities are declining.

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