Howard County will issue $111.6 million of general obligation bonds in a competitive transaction scheduled to price Feb. 12.

Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard & Poor’s each gave the deal a triple-A and affirmed their ratings and stable outlooks on the county’s $645.9 million of outstanding debt.

The rating “reflects Howard County’s deep and diverse economy, strong financial management, affluent residents, and a moderate debt burden with rapid amortization,” Fitch said in a press release. “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.”

Located along Interstate 95 between the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Howard County continues to experience healthy rates of tax base expansion, employment growth, and gains in wealth, rating analysts said.

“The full market value of the county’s tax base has increased by 70% since fiscal 2002, growing to a substantial $36.4 billion as of fiscal 2007,” Moody’s said in a statement. “Notably, the county’s rate of tax base growth has steadily increased on an annual basis during this time, escalating from 6% growth in fiscal 2003 to 16% growth in fiscal 2007.”

Moody’s “expects the county to maintain a favorable financial position given prudent management practices and policies, healthy fiscal operations, and adequate financial flexibility derived from the county’s dedicated reserves.”


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