The bonds are scheduled to price via competitive bid on
In addition, Fitch affirms the following ratings:
The Rating Outlook is Stable.
The bonds are general obligations of the county, secured by an irrevocable full faith, credit, and resources pledge to levy an ad valorem tax sufficient (together with all other legally available monies) to pay debt service. The county's pledge on LTGO bonds is constrained by property tax levy growth of 1% per year, plus new construction, and a rate cap of
KEY RATING DRIVERS
SOUND FINANCIAL POSITION: General fund balances and cash levels remain healthy and increased in 2012. Unaudited results for 2013 reflect continued positive operations, which appear likely to continue in 2014 based on year to date results.
STRUCTURAL IMBALANCE: The county will be challenged to maintain structural balance over the longer term due to ongoing cost pressures and constraints on revenue growth. The county is property tax dependent in a state with restrictive property tax levy growth limits. Recent efforts to address this imbalance through efficiency measures have shown positive results but could prove difficult to maintain on a permanent basis.
STRONG MANAGEMENT: The county's strong management is reflected in its commitment to long-term planning, adherence to council-adopted financial management policies, and low debt burden.
BALANCED OPERATIONS: The rating is sensitive to shifts in fundamental credit characteristics, including the county's ability to maintain balanced operations despite revenue constraints. A material change in the county's financial flexibility and reserves relative to historical levels, while not anticipated, could pressure the current rating and/or Outlook.
DIVERSE ECONOMIC BASE
CONTINUED PROGRESS IN ADDRESSING STRUCTURAL IMBALANCE
Such efficiency efforts respond to legal limits on growth in property tax, the general fund's largest source of revenue, and are intended to address the structural imbalance between projected revenue and expenditure growth. Voter-approved property tax levies for specific purposes, such as parks or criminal justice, have also helped the county to reduce demands on its general fund in recent years, but Fitch believes out-year gaps could prove challenging to manage.
CONTINUED STRONG OPERATING RESULTS
Management reports continued positive operating margins for the fiscal year ending
The county's budget for 2014 is balanced and recent revenue forecasts suggest the county is on track for a fifth consecutive year with positive operating results. Management has preliminarily identified a
LOW DEBT; MANAGEABLE PENSIONS
The county's debt burden remains low with overall debt at 1.8% of TAV. Amortization is quicker than average with approximately 66% of direct debt repaid in 10 years. Pension liabilities are manageable and reflect historical strong funding levels for most state-sponsored plans. Other post-employment benefit liabilities are relatively minor as most retirees must pay for the cost of their participation in the county's group insurance plan. Carrying costs for debt and retirement benefits are low at approximately a combined 9% of governmental expenditures in 2012.
Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.
In addition to the sources of information identified in Fitch's Tax-Supported Rating Criteria, this action was additionally informed by information from Creditscope,
--'Tax-Supported Rating Criteria' (
Tax-Supported Rating Criteria
Source: Fitch Ratings
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