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Howard gets AAA rating

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Howard County has received the highest possible credit rating, AAA, from all three bond rating agencies. Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s, for the 22nd consecutive years. All three noted Howard County’s strong economy and financial flexibility, even amid a historic, federal government shutdown.

Among more than 3,000 counties in the nation, Howard is one of only 43 counties to receive a AAA rating from all agencies. The rating affirms Howard County’s ability to pay its debts and gives taxpayers the lowest possible interest when repaying bonds sold by the county.

The rating agencies use four categories of criteria: Economy/Tax base, Finances, Management, and Debt/Pensions. Each agency issued a report that highlights Howard County’s strengths.

Fitch expects “Howard County to maintain a high level of financial flexibility throughout economic cycles, consistent with a long history of sound operating performance and healthy reserves, and a superior level of budget flexibility.”

Moody’s reported, “The stable outlook reflects the likelihood that the county’s financial position will remain sound given management’s adherence to formal fiscal policies… The outlook also reflects future growth in the county’s base given ongoing commercial and residential development spurred by proximity to District of Columbia and the institutional presence of Fort Meade.”

Standard & Poor’s noted, “In our opinion … stable financial operations and very strong management, including comprehensive policies and practices, support the AAA rating.”

The full bond rating reports are available at www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/FInance/Financial-Information/Bonds