NEW YORK - Moody's Investors Service said it has downgraded to Aa3 from Aa2 the rating on Muskingum County, Ohio's outstanding general obligation limited tax debt and assigned the Aa3 rating to the county's $2.7 million various purpose refunding bonds, Series 2012 (limited tax general obligation). Post-sale, the county will have $29.6 million of long-term general obligation limited tax debt outstanding.

Debt service on the bonds is secured by the county's general obligation limited tax pledge, subject to the state of Ohio's (general obligation rated Aa1/stable outlook) statutory 10 mill limitation.

Proceeds will be used to refund the county's outstanding Series 2002 general obligation limited tax bonds for interest savings.

The Series 2002 bonds were issued to finance construction of sanitary sewer lines as well as acquisition of and improvements to county buildings.

The Aa3 rating reflects the county's sizeable tax base just east of Columbus (Aaa/stable outlook), relatively weak socioeconomic characteristics, considerable narrowing of general fund balance and cash reserves over the past four years, and manageable debt burden.

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