10/31/04 — County keeps A+ bond rating

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County keeps A+ bond rating

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on October 31, 2004 2:04 AM

Wayne County received some good news last week that could save the county thousands, even millions, as it finances future projects.

Standard and Poor's, one of the financial firms that rates local governments for lenders, notified the county Thursday that it was maintaining the county's "A+" rating with a stable outlook.

The company had spent more than a month reviewing the county's finances and had met repeatedly with County Man-ager Lee Smith and his staff.

Many cities and counties across the nation have seen their bond ratings downgraded as a result of new government accounting standards, Smith said Friday.

But Wayne County was able to answer any concerns that the reviewers had, he continued. The county was helped out because it was already in the process of its annual audit. The Davenport Group, a consulting company, has also been helping the county compile information to plan for a future building program.

"If there ever was a good time for this kind of review, this was it," Smith said.

The better a local government's bond rating, the lower it is seen as a risk to investors. That should mean lower interest rates when the county seeks bonds, Smith added.

The A+ rating reflects the county's modestly diversifying economy with an employment base in manufacturing, health care and agriculture. It also indicates the county has sound financial practices, healthy fund balances and overall low debt.

The review also indicated that the county has good capacity for additional debt in the future.