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Stafford's bond rating upgraded
Date published: 10/24/2012
Stafford County's economy should be able to withstand potential defense cuts that are looming as a result of sequestration and federal budget reductions, Fitch Ratings said in a report released Tuesday.
Fitch, a global financial rating agency, made the comments in a report announcing it was upgrading the rating on Stafford's 2008 lease revenue bonds from AA-minus to AA. The rating outlook is stable.
Jurisdictions with higher bond ratings can borrow money more cheaply, which saves taxpayers money.
Fitch cited Stafford's financial flexibility due to its healthy reserves, conservative budgeting, growing revenue and moderate debt. The agency also noted that Stafford's wealth, income, employment and population-growth levels outperform those of the state and nation.
Fitch did say that Stafford's concentration in the government and military sectors exposes the county to risks from potential U.S. defense cuts, but it said the risks are lessened by the essential nature of facilities such as Marine Corps Base Quantico and the widespread presence of the FBI.
Fitch also noted that
"This upgrade reflects the strength of Stafford County's commitment to fiscal discipline and accountability," Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson said in a news release that Stafford sent out about the upgrade. The $37 million worth of revenue bonds issued in 2008 that were the subject of the Fitch upgrade funded projects including the England Run Library, Patawomeck Park, courthouse design and renovations, radio communications and artificial turf fields at Smith Lake Park. Localities that use lease revenue bonds pledge the buildings as collateral, and lease payments are budgeted for annually.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405