King County bond rating restored to 'stable'

King County's bonds were restored to "stable" by the Moody Investor's Service last week, a move that shields the county from any adverse effects if Moody's makes another downgrade to the federal government's credit rating as a whole.

"We can be proud of today's decision by Moody's because it recognizes our prudent management to create efficiencies, set aside savings, and partner with our employees to reduce costs," said King County Executive Dow Constantine in a prepared statement.

In addition to the Moody's decision, the county shared that Standard and Poor's (S&P) assigned a "AAA" long-term rating to the county's "upcoming limited-tax general obligation Series 2011D bonds" and also reaffirmed King County's "AAA" long-term rating on previously issued General Obligation bonds. The county indicates that S&P felt confident in affirming those ratings because of the "county's strong financial management and willingness to make necessary budget adjustments."

On top of the S&P reaffirmation, another credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, also listed King County's bond outlook as stable and "reaffirmed its high marks for nearly $1.8 billion worth of outstanding bonds."

According to the county, these ratings allow the county to borrow money for projects at a lower cost to taxpayers. The high marks will allow the county to "obtain an interest rate on its long-term borrowings of at least .20 percent less than comparable government borrowers with a credit rating just one category lower, and .80 lower for borrowers with a credit rating two levels below King County's."

The county notes that the "ratings and outlooks issued by the various credit agencies come ahead of the county's planned $20 million bond sale on December 12." A large portion of that $20 million will apparently be used to purchase 250 acres on Maury Island as part of a conservation effort.


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