From Harford County government:
County Executive David R. Craig is pleased to announce that Harford County has had its AAA bond ratings reaffirmed by rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The two agencies upgraded the County in 2010, and the confirmation of the AAA ratings are the result of a review of the County’s fiscal management practices and economic outlook, as well as meetings with the County Executive and members of his administration.
Standard & Poor’s, which had previously assigned the County with an AA+ rating also reaffirmed their rating. The three rating agencies employ financial and business experts who seek to advise investors with regard to the safety of investing in a particular organization. By assigning these ratings, the experts are identifying Harford County as a safe place to invest and to do business.
According to Fitch Ratings, Harford County’s rating outlook is stable, and the County’s financial operations are “characterized by a conservative approach to budget development, timely revenue and spending adjustments, and steady compliance with a fiscal stabilization policy equal to 5% of spending.” Furthermore, Fitch adds, “Harford County continues to adhere to good debt management guidelines, which have allowed overall debt levels to remain low.”
Fitch also notes the county’s “historically low unemployment,” which they attribute to the quality of the local labor force, the County’s location, and the high concentration of federal government employees and contractors. The continued expansion of APG, the report states, “should prove beneficial over the intermediate- to long-term, particularly with respect to attracting higher-wage employment opportunities.”
Similarly, Moody’s Investors Service identifies Harford’s “conservative management that maintains comprehensive fiscal policies” as a strength, while noting that the county’s employment linkage with the federal government is a challenge going forward.
Commenting on the reports from the rating agencies, County Executive Craig remarked, “As I stated a year and a half ago when we were first upgraded, the efforts that my administration and the County Council have taken to diversify our economy, to reduce the tax burden of our citizens, and to invest in key infrastructure projects have positioned Harford County well for the future.”
“The reaffirmation of our AAA bond rating confirms that our conservative fiscal approach is working, and that despite facing significant headwinds in our national economy, Harford County is not only weathering the storm but thriving.” County Executive Craig added, “If only the federal government could get its house in order as we have done, Harford County and our citizens could look forward to an even brighter and more stable future.”