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Johnson County bonds receive top credit ratings

Johnson County has again received a AAA/Stable credit rating from all three bond rating agencies – Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investor Services for its General Obligation Bonds. Of the more than 3,000 counties in the nation, fewer than 30 receive the top rating from all three agencies.

The agencies examined Johnson County’s diverse tax base, financial policies, debt burden and long-range plans for continued fiscal health, economic strengths and overall quality of life in establishing their ratings regarding the issuance and sale of slightly more than $22.1 million in General Obligation Bonds by Johnson County and almost $1.4 million in Lease Purchase Revenue bonds by the Public Building Commission of Johnson County. The bond ratings help determine the ease with which the county can borrow money and the interest rates it pays. The better the rating, the better terms it gets on its money.

“While Johnson County has had a Triple-A rating for several years, we never take it for granted,” Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, said. “The professional review shows we remain in the top one percent of counties nationwide in developing sound fiscal policies, budgeting conservatively and finding ways to do more with less.”

County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson agreed.

“We are always pleased to receive this highest designation, Triple-A, from all three of the national rating agencies. It affirms, through independent evaluation and judgment, that Johnson County Government is meeting and exceeding the highest standards established on behalf of our citizens,” she said.

On Thursday, the Board of County Commissioners approved the issuance of $22,165,000 in G.O. bonds for wastewater improvements, totaling 20,531,727, and $2,994,600 for the Johnson County radio replacement project. The wastewater bonds will be financed over 20 years while the radio replacement bonds involved a 10-year issuance. The G.O. bonds were purchased by J.P. Morgan Securities LLC at an interest rate of 2.34%.

The board also authorized $1,390,000 in lease purchase revenue bonds for the renovation, construction, equipping and furnishing of improvements to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Operations Building and the Adult Detention Center along with improvements to the Corrections Department’s Adult Residential Center 3. All three facilities are at the New Century AirCenter near Gardner. The board, in its role as the Public Building Commission, approved the issuance and sale of the lease purchase revenue bonds that were sold to Robert W. Baird & Co. at an interest rate of 2.55%

The board and PBC unanimously approved all three bond transactions in separate votes.

All three agencies viewed the county’s outlook as “stable” with a “low long-term” debt burden, a “very strong” economy and well-managed” finances.

Highlights from the reports included:

  • Moody’s – Aaa/Stable:
    • The county has a sizable and wealthy tax base that serves as a major employment center in the Kansas City metro area.
    • Well-managed finances with healthy reserves.
    • Low net direct debt and pension burdens.
    • The county’s financial position is expected to remain stable supported by strategic budgeting practices and the underlying economy.
  • Standard & Poor’s – AAA/Stable:
    • Very strong economy with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan area.
    • Very strong management with “strong” financial policies.
    • Strong budgetary performance with operating surpluses in the general fund and total government fund level.
    • Very strong budgetary flexibility and liquidity.
    • Very strong debt and contingent liability position.
    • Strong institutional framework.
  • Fitch – AAA/Stable (GO Only):
    • Diverse local economy characterized by a well-educated population with high wealth and low unemployment.
    • Strong revenue and expenditure frameworks.
    • The county has the highest gap-closing capacity to manage through an economic downturn.
    • Low long-term liability burden including pension liabilities and overall debt.
    • Very strong financial performance.

More information is available by contacting Scott Neufeld, director of the Johnson County Department of Budget and Financial Planning, scott.neufeld@jocogov.org or Nate Blum, management and budget analyst, nate.blum@jocogov.org, or they can be contacted at 913-715-0605.

 

Media Contacts

Lori Sand
Senior Public Information Officer
Office: 913-715-8572
Cell: 816-560-6713

Jody Hanson
Director of Public Affairs and Communication
Office: 913-715-0730
Cell: 913-626-5482