Oakland County scores a AAA bond rating again

Oakland County has captured a AAA bond rating with a stable outlook from both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s for the 19th year in a row, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Treasurer Andy Meisner, and Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash announced. The two bond ratings agencies assigned their highest credit scores to Oakland County’s $4.8 million Evergreen and Farmington Sewage Disposal Systems North Evergreen Interceptor Bonds, Series 2017.

“Nearly two decades of AAA bond ratings is validation of our multi-year budget and decision to transition away from traditional forms of retirement benefits to ones that reflect what the private sector is doing today,” Patterson said.
Meisner agreed that the county’s financial position is stronger.

“The AAA bond rating is a symbol of Oakland County excellence and leadership that helps us serve our citizens and save money,” Meisner said.

The AAA rating will enable Nash to obtain the lowest interest rates the market allows to finance the bonds.

“The AAA rating allows my office to negotiate the best possible interest rates on the loans we use to invest in our water, sewer and drain infrastructure,” Nash said. “It has been most beneficial to our operating the largest drain office in Michigan. We are proud of the exceptional budget and management practices that allow Oakland County to earn this rating.”

Moody’s said the county’s finances will remain strong into the future.

“We expect the county’s fiscal position to remain healthy going forward,” Moody’s said. “General fund operations were positive for an eleventh consecutive year and the county’s available general fund balance… grew to… 62% of general fund revenue.”

That’s more than seven months of general fund revenue for the county. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada recommends governments keep two months of general fund balance on hand.

Moody’s also cited the county’s rolling three-year budget with a five-year outlook and low pension burden because the county moved employees from a traditional pension retirement system to a 401(k)-style retirement in the 1990s. Moody’s also based the rating on the county’s continued strong economic growth. In the county’s three-year economic outlook released last month by the University of Michigan, economists forecasted that by 2019, Oakland County will recover all the jobs it lost from 2000 to the summer of 2009 due largely to the Great Recession and auto bankruptcies.