Here’s the press release from Buncombe County:
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.
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.”
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.”
“This is fabulous news” says Kit Cramer, Executive Director of the Asheville Chamber, “this is exactly what is needed to help us compete for the recruitment of businesses who are looking for a well run local government and a good economic environment.”
“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.”
About the ratings:
A rating is a grade that indicates the credit quality of a bond based on the evaluation of an issuer’s financial strength. Private rating services such as Standard and Poor’s provide these evaluations. Ratings are divided into several categories ranging from AAA, reflecting the strongest credit quality, to D, reflecting the lowest. The ratings from AA to CCC may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the rating categories.