For almost 30 years, Franklin County residents have benefited from their county government’s double Triple-A bond ratings from the ratings firms Moody’s Investors Service and Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings, making it just one of 2% of the nation’s 3,069 counties to enjoy this highest-possible rating. Last week, Moody’s updated its credit analysis of Franklin County, retaining the Aaa rating and noting the county’s “strong financial management and resilient revenue base.”
“This yearly affirmation of the county’s excellent credit rating is a real-world testament to our sound fiscal management and strong financial track record,” said County Administrator Kenneth N. Wilson. “These ratings benefit our residents by allowing us to borrow money, such as for the recently constructed jail and forensic science center at the best possible interest rates. That also frees up more county funds for needed social services and other programs for our residents.”
Much like an individual’s credit score, a bond rating is an expression of the ratings agencies’ confidence in a local government’s ability to pay its debt obligations and manage ongoing expenditures. Investors prefer to buy bonds or lend money to institutions with good ratings and are willing to do so at low interest rates. The low rates on bonds issued by the county last year resulted in a net present value debt service savings of approximately $7 million for county residents.
“The county’s excellent credit rating is a reflection of high confidence in the commissioners’ fiscal stewardship of the county. Big companies such as Intel and Honda also take these sorts of things into account when making decisions about big capital investments in communities such as ours because they’re looking for communities that can withstand adverse economic cycles without significant challenges,” said Wilson.
Elsewhere in the updated opinion, Moody’s cites a stable outlook for Central Ohio and an “expectation that the county’s economy will continue to grow”. The report also notes that Franklin County “is emerging strongly from the pandemic with a labor force that is larger than it was before coronavirus” and praises the county’s conservative budgeting and low debt burden.
Information about the county’s budget is available at Budget.FranklinCountyOhio.gov
. The commissioners will be holding hearings to consider next year’s budget in mid-November and streaming them live so that the public may attend virtually.