Announced via Press Release:

Howard County receives AAA credit rating from all 3 rating agencies for 22nd year

Among more than 3,000 counties in the nation, Howard is one of only 43 counties to receive a AAA rating from all agencies

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced today that the county has again received the highest possible credit rating, AAA, from all three bond rating agencies. Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s all noted Howard County’s strong economy and financial flexibility, even amid a historic, federal government shutdown. During his first visit in office, Ball and his team made presentations to representatives of the bond rating agencies earlier this month to secure the rating. Among more than 3,000 counties in the nation, Howard is one of only 43 counties to receive a AAA rating from all agencies. The rating affirms Howard County’s ability to pay its debts and gives taxpayers the lowest possible interest when repaying bonds sold by the county. 

“Howard County’s AAA bond rating reflects the strength of our economy and our fiscal oversight,” said Ball. “Though we face tough financial decisions moving forward, our AAA rating shows that our credit is stellar, with low unemployment and a strong, diverse workforce. Even as our nation faces an uncertain economic future, our county’s fiscal practices remain healthy, flexible, and sound.”

“Thanks to County Executive Ball’s strong fiscal management, this rating ensures that Howard County will continue to receive the lowest interest rates on our bonds as we continue to invest in our future,” said Howard County Council Chair Christiana Mercer Rigby. “For the 22nd consecutive year, I’m proud that Howard County has maintained its Triple-A rating from the bond rating agencies.”

The rating agencies use four categories of criteria: Economy/Tax base, Finances, Management, and Debt/Pensions. Each agency issued a report that highlights Howard County’s strengths:

Fitch expects “Howard County to maintain a high level of financial flexibility throughout economic cycles, consistent with a long history of sound operating performance and healthy reserves, and a superior level of budget flexibility.”

Moody’s reported, “The stable outlook reflects the likelihood that the county’s financial position will remain sound given management’s adherence to formal fiscal policies… The outlook also reflects future growth in the county’s base given ongoing commercial and residential development spurred by proximity to District of Columbia and the institutional presence of Fort Meade.”

Standard & Poor’s noted, “In our opinion… stable financial operations and very strong management, including comprehensive policies and practices, support the AAA rating.”

“It’s an honor to receive the highest rating and a stable outlook from each of the rating agencies,” said Howard County Director of Finance Janet Irvin. “The County’s flexibility, strong management, and sound fiscal practices ensures this high rating and allows our tax dollars to go farther to meet the needs of our citizens.”

“Howard County Government’s 22nd consecutive year of receiving a AAA bond rating is unprecedented,” said Howard County Chamber of Commerce President Leonardo McClarty. “It speaks to the sound governance and fiscal oversight from our elected and appointed officials. Howard County is fortunate to have such good stewards of our tax dollars.”

“Howard County’s AAA bond rating acknowledges the robust business climate and thriving community here in Howard County,” said Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO Larry Twele. “This rating affirms Howard as a premier destination and recognizes the contribution and strength of our businesses.”

The AAA rating notification comes as Ball finishes a historic Business Appreciation Week in Howard County. Ball and his team of more than 70 ambassadors visited over 150 businesses last week. These visits were about thanking business owners and, most importantly, listening to their perspectives on how to strengthen the business climate in Howard County.

The full bond rating reports are available here.

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Scott E