County Executive David Coulter’s management team was viewed as “very strong” by Standard and Poor’s (S&P) when they assigned a AAA long-term rating to Oakland County. Coulter and team, with a bipartisan group of county commissioners, met with S&P last week to describe ambitious plans and continued adherence to strong fiscal policies.
“My administration is committed to balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility and moving Oakland County forward together. That is what my team presented to S&P and it is great to now have their validation with the highest rating possible — AAA,” Coulter says. “This rating is positive news for the residents of the county because it allows us to cut the price tag of government.”
The AAA bond rating will enable the county to finance two bond issues at the best market rates possible, saving a significant amount of money. One bond issue is for the Oakland County Building Authority which will include a new public safety radio system. The other is for a Water Resources Commissioner project in Farmington Hills.
“It has been my top priority to keep this AAA hallmark of Oakland County’s economic prowess while leveraging our strengths and addressing our challenges. As I said at the State of the County, we can be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s money and forward-thinking,” Coulter says. “I brought my leadership team with me so S&P could hear our ambitious plans and commitment to fiscal discipline.
“I want to thank the Board of Commissioners, who sent bipartisan representation with us, to reinforce our government is working together.”
S&P said in a report published online that their rating reflects Oakland County’s “very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices…” They also acknowledged the recent change in administration and “continued adherence to strong policies and comprehensive planning.”
The report went on to state their rating is a “reflection of what we consider to be a large amount of discretionary spending, low fixed costs and our positive view of the management team, which actively monitors the budget and is capable of anticipating and addressing challenges.”
The Oakland County Building Authority Bond will fund $18.5 million of the county’s new $57 million public safety radio system and replace its aging, 15-year-old radio system. The new Motorola P25 radio system will provide coverage for all county law enforcement, fire and EMS and improve interoperability with Oakland County’s neighbors and state agencies. It will include 5,500 radios, 31 towers and 76 dispatch consoles. The principal and interest will be paid for by a 911 surcharge.
The building authority bond will also refinance five other building authority bonds that total $25,760,000: Series 2010, Series 2011A, Series 2011B, Series 2011 and Series 2012. The refinancing will save taxpayers over $1 million in interest. The bonds will be sold by sealed bid later in March.
The $3,945,000 Evergreen Farmington Sewage Disposal System Bond will finance an Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner project to maintain capacity and performance in Farmington Hills by installing a new system with 3,700 linear feet of 36-inch thermal cured-in-place sewer line and 16 manholes. Revenue from the system will pay for the principal and interest of the bonds. The bonds will be sold by sealed bid on March 12.