Moody’s Investors Service said it has assigned a Aa3 rating to Oconee County, Ga.’s $19.6 million of Series 2008 revenue bonds for the Oconee-Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Project issued through the Walton County Water and Sewerage Authority, and upgraded the county’s long-term general obligation rating to Aa3 from A1, affecting $11.1 million of parity debt.

The bonds are secured by the county’s general obligation pledge provided through an intergovernmental contract with the authority.

The upgrade to Aa3 reflects Oconee’s growing residential tax base and relative increases in already above-average wealth levels, and the history of strong financial operations characterized by annual operating surpluses and sizable reserve levels, according to analysts.

The rating also reflects the county’s economic stability provided by regional institutional employers and modest debt burden with manageable future borrowing plans. Bond proceeds will finance Oconee’s portion of construction costs for the 1,370-acre Hard Labor Creek Reservoir, a water treatment facility, and storage and transmission infrastructure.

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