Fauquier County Friday received an upgrade to AA from AA-minus on its outstanding general obligation bonds from Standard & Poor’s.

Located in northern Virginia to the west of Prince William County, and approximately 40 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., Fauquier is the state’s 19th most populous county, based on 2000 census data.

Standard & Poor’s said Fauquier has strengthened its financial position amid the economic recession with strong reserves and fiscal stability.

To cope with declining budget revenues, Fauquier’s $145.9 million fiscal 2010 budget includes a $4.2 million drawdown on reserves. The county has held reserves of 16.7% of expenditures over the last five years.

Fauquier’s tax base has benefited from rising property values. Since 2006, assessed value has increased by 8.1%, Standard & Poor’s said. However, the housing bubble could slash 18% to 23% of the county’s tax base when values are reassessed in fiscal 2010.

The county debt burden is $1,903 per capita, or 0.9% of 2008 market value. County officials are planning to retire 64% of principal over 10 years.

Fauquier’s fiscal 2008 financial statements showed the county had $168.2 million of GO debt outstanding through 2028 and $3.4 million of revenue bonds outstanding through 2021.

The county’s GO debt is rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by Fitch Ratings.

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