Howard County has received an AAA credit rating, the highest possible score, from all three bond ratings agencies. Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investor Services and Standard & Poor’s all have recognized the county’s vibrant economy, diverse revenue streams and strong financial policies and practices.
“These ratings are an affirmation of our sound fiscal management, responsibility and strength,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “I believe the rating agencies appreciated our decisive action in resolving the $15.8 million current year deficit we inherited. They also certainly recognize the important benefits of our highly educated workforce, our historically low unemployment rate and our ability to attract new business and expand the ones already located here.”
Each agency issued a report describing Howard County’s strengths.
Fitch noted “prudent management and planning are evidenced in the county’s financial performance and healthy reserves which temper risk to the credit profile.”
Standard & Poor’s acknowledged Howard County’s “strong” fiscal management practices that are “well embedded and likely sustainable” and predicted the county will continue to budget conservatively while maintaining flexibility and liquidity.
Moody’s cited a “sizeable and economically diverse tax base” along with a “management team that practices conservative budgeting and maintains comprehensive fiscal policies.”
An AAA rating means that Howard County can issue debt for capital projects at the most favorable interest rates available, which translates into savings for taxpayers compared to lower graded bonds.
Howard is one of just 41 counties among more than 3,000 in the U.S. to earn a Triple-A rating from all three agencies. Once received, the full bond rating reports will be posted at www.howardcountymd.gov.