The new money bonds are scheduled for competitive sale on
Proceeds will be used to fund various capital improvements in the county as well as refinance outstanding debt for savings.
In addition, Fitch affirms the following ratings:
The Rating Outlook is Stable.
The bonds are general obligations of the county with a pledge of its faith and credit and ad valorem tax, subject to the 2011 state statute limiting property tax increases to the lesser of 2% or an inflation factor (the tax cap law). This limit can be overridden annually by a 60% vote of the county legislature.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
FAVORABLE ECONOMIC PROFILE: The county benefits from a stable tax base and a diverse economy with strong education and health care sectors. County unemployment rates are consistently below both state and national levels.
STRONG AND CONSISTENT FINANCIAL POSITION: Prudent fiscal policies and budgetary conservatism have resulted in solid financial performance highlighted by healthy reserve levels.
MANAGEABLE DEBT PROFILE: The debt profile remains manageable, characterized by an average overall debt burden, modest carrying costs and above-average amortization coupled with moderate capital plans.
CONTINUED STRONG FINANCAL POSITION: The rating is sensitive to shifts in fundamental credit characteristics including the county's strong financial management practices. The Stable Outlook reflects Fitch's expectation that such shifts are unlikely.
FAVORABLE ECONOMIC PROFILE
The county benefits from a stable employment base bolstered by a strong presence of health care and higher education. Major employers include the
The county's unemployment rate has consistently been below state and national levels. In
The tax base has remained relatively stable and is diverse with the top 10 taxpayers comprising a modest 5.6% of assessed value. The county's housing market experienced minimal foreclosures and declines in average medium home prices during the recession. Income levels are slightly below state levels but comparable to national averages.
WELL-MANAGED CONSISTENT FINANCIAL POSITION
For 2013 (year-end
Sales tax is the largest source of general fund revenue, comprising 47% in 2013. The county's finances have benefitted from the implementation of a 10-year sales tax sharing agreement effective
SALE OF COUNTY-OWNED NURSING HOME A POSITIVE
Fitch views positively the
BUDGETED USE OF FUND BALANCE IN 2014
The 2014 adopted budget totals
Management's current projections show a
MANAGEABLE DEBT PROFILE
The county's debt levels are manageable. Debt per capita at
WELL-FUNDED STATE PENSION PLAN
Substantially all employees of the county are members of the well-funded
The county currently funds its OPEB liability on a pay-as-you-go basis and will continue to do so as there is no authority under present state law to establish a trust account or reserve fund for this liability. As of
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' (
--'U.S. Local Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria' (
Tax-Supported Rating Criteria
Source: Fitch Ratings
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