Buncombe County Credit Rating Upped to AAA
Buncombe County Government has received the highest rating by Standard and Poor’s bond rating agency assigning a AAA rating to the County, up from the previous AA+ rating. This independent rating agency consists of financial and business experts whose goal is to advise investors on how safe an investment in an organization will be. By assigning Buncombe County this rating, the experts are saying Buncombe County is a safe place to invest and do business.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the rating increase will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in borrowing costs.
Buncombe becomes only the 6th county in North Carolina to have a AAA rating, joining Mecklenburg, Wake, Forsyth, New Hanover and Durham Counties.
“We are delighted to receive a AAA bond rating, stated County Manager Wanda Greene, this rating reaffirms that Buncombe County is well positioned to support our business community, to provide effective and efficient services and conservatively manage our tax dollars. In practical terms, having a AAA ratings means that our costs when we borrow are kept as low as possible.”
“This is an important accomplishment for us,” said Commission Chairman David Gantt. “This is recognition that Buncombe County is being well managed as it works through a difficult economic environment. We are making tough but smart choices with our workforce, smart partnerships and spending, while continuing to provide essential services.”
According to the report released by Standard and Poor’s, the AAA rating reflects the County’s:
- Role as the regional economic hub for WNC, with a local economy showing signs of modest recovery and an unemployment rate below state and national averages;
- Maintenance of strong reserves and liquidity through the recent recessionary period;
- Strong financial management practices and policies;
- Low overall debt levels with management long-term pension and other postemployment benefit liabilities; and
- Low funding interdependence with the funding government.
- Ongoing diversification and expansion of Buncombe County’s economic base.
Standard and Poor’s stated: “despite budgetary pressures attributed to the economic downturn, Buncombe’s financial performance has remained very strong. Management has consistently produced general fund surpluses and maintained strong reserves above policy targets. Buncombe’s financial management practices are strong, well-embedded, and likely sustainable.”
Wanda Greene had told commissioners earlier this year that the county’s size would make a bond rating upgrade difficult.
“We’re probably real surprised,” Greene told the Asheville Citizen-Times. “We’re thrilled. There’s no other way to put it.”