Howard County plans to issue $116.6 million of triple-A rated general obligation refunding bonds Wednesday in a negotiated transaction. Public Financial Management Inc. is the financial adviser on the deal and Bear, Stearns & Co. will lead a syndicate of underwriters. Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard & Poor’s all assigned triple-A ratings and stable outlooks.Fitch also affirmed the AAA rating and stable outlook on the county’s $653 million of outstanding GOs.“The AAA rating reflects Howard County’s deep and diverse economy, strong financial management, affluent residents, and a moderate and rapidly retired debt burden,” Fitch said in a report last week. “The county’s financial position is strong, with ample liquidity, sound general fund reserves above the charter-mandated level, and excellent financial planning. Current and projected tax-supported debt levels are affordable.”The county’s credit rating also benefits from its location between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, analysts said.“Residents benefit from significant employment opportunities within the county as well as throughout the Washington-Baltimore region,” Standard & Poor’s said in its report. “The deep and diverse local and regional economies contribute to high wealth levels and low unemployment.”
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