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2019 News

Moody’s Affirms County’s Triple-A Bond Credit Rating

April 26, 2019

Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

Moody’s Investors Service once again has affirmed Bucks County’s Aaa bond credit rating, ensuring the county will continue to reap the financial advantages of the highest rating available.   

The county first attained Moody’s Aaa rating in 2010, the result of many years of fiscal discipline. Four years later, Standard & Poor’s followed suit, bestowing its superior AAA rating, which the county also continues to hold.

“We are pleased with this rating. It further enforces the strong financial position the county has maintained over the years,” said Robert G. Loughery, chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners. “It’s a challenge to maintain a rating of the highest level and still balance the needs of taxpayers and residents, but we have proven again that we can do it.”

For taxpayers, such high ratings amount to far more than financial bragging rights. They enable Bucks County to sell its bonds at the lowest interest rates, keeping debt service costs to a minimum.

The ratings also make the county’s bonds attractive to investors, increasing demand for the bonds and, as a result, making it easier for Bucks County to raise money. The premium placed on the county’s bonds means that investors will pay more than face value for the bonds.

Tempering the good news was Moody’s warning that Bucks County’s rating could be lowered in the future if a better balance between spending and revenue is not achieved.

“The Aaa rating reflects the county’s large and affluent tax base with proximity to major employment centers, low debt burden and manageable pension liabilities,” Moody’s said in a news release. “Additionally, the rating incorporates the county’s financial position, which while healthy, has weakened following draws on reserves.”

Bucks County’s Board of Commissioners has raised taxes only twice in the past 13 years, at times opting instead to tap into the county’s general fund reserves during leaner years. The current operating budget of $432.6 million was passed without a tax increase, but used $1.3 million from the county’s $35.6 million general fund balance.

The 2019 budget also was predicated on implementing difficult austerity measures aimed at reducing the size of the county workforce and cutting expenditures for health care and personnel.

“The hard work is ahead of us,” Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler said at the time the budget was approved. “It’s going to be painful to make this work, but we can all make it work.”