CLINTON—Moody’s Investors Service announced from New York that they have affirmed the Aa2 General Obligation, or GO, rating of Anderson County and have upgraded Anderson County’s rating by removing the “negative outlook,” officials said.
During bond issuance for rural elementary and rural high school bonds, as well as tax anticipation notes, Moody’s assigned Anderson County an Aa2 “negative outlook” rating in the 2010/2011 budget year, a press release said.
Highlights from Moody’s rating report of July 9, 2015, noted that the company lifted the negative outlook and that “improved financial performance” led to “reserve and liquidity growth,” the release said.
Moody’s also said “the county’s financial position has stabilized since fiscal 2012, after recording three consecutive General Fund deficits. With a $1.7 million surplus in fiscal 2014, the county posted its third consecutive General Fund surplus…” and “…the county maintains a robust formal fund balance policy. In fiscal 2013, the county’s policy required a supermajority (approval from 12 of 16 County Commission members) to spend unassigned fund balance below $3.5 million. The threshold was increased in fiscal 2014 to $4 million and the fiscal 2016 (proposed) budget includes an increase to $4.5 million.”
“We are beyond thrilled to have the negative outlook removed,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said in the press release. “We have worked hard as a county to move in the right direction, and this rating action is evidence that hard work pays off. We still have challenges and much work left to do, but we’re headed in the right direction.”
“I think this rating upgrade is the culmination of staying the course with fiscally prudent leadership lighting the way,” Director of Accounts and Budgets Christopher K. Phillips said. “It’s all the little, but extremely important, things we as a county do every day to show that we are being good stewards of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. Those things include doing more with less, keeping a watchful eye on cash flow, protecting fund balances, and avoiding the issuance of costly tax anticipation notes. These things aren’t accomplished without tough decisions, sacrifice, and the ability to bring everyone together for a common purpose. We are very pleased with the rating upgrade but will never stop working toward achieving the highest rating possible for our county.”
Moody’s said Anderson County’s ratings could go up with a trend of significant growth in the county’s tax base and a significant improvement in the county’s socio-economic indicators. They note the ratings could go down if the county returns to operational imbalance leading to reduced reserves or liquidity or an erosion of the county’s tax base.
“We know ratings might not mean much in our day-to-day life, but a ratings review from Moody’s is a solid, reliable indicator to businesses, industry, and families just exactly how your local government finances are being managed,” Frank said. “We are so proud of the progress we’ve made.”
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