Today Moody’s Investors Service announced they have upgraded their general obligation bond rating for James City County from Aa1 to Aaa. That means when the County refinances bond debt in the next six weeks, the County will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments on projects.
James City County joins a small elite group of Virginia localities that have obtained the highest bond ratings that can be received from two of the three major national rating agencies: Moody’s and Fitch Ratings. The County expects the third rating agency, Standard and Poor’s, to affirm their AAA rating within the next few days.
Moody’s was clear about the factors affecting their decision, citing the County’s continued strong financial position due to:
• solid fiscal management and conservative budgeting practices,
• the large economic base with above average wealth levels and a sizeable tourism sector, and
• a manageable debt burden.
Moody’s outlook for the County was positive:
• a stable financial outlook due to the FY16 real estate tax rate increase that will help to offset upcoming capital costs, plus
• an expectation that the County will continue to experience moderate growth due to its favorable location in the region’s strong local economy.
Moody’s also highlighted the additional $7.8 million revenue generated by this year’s tax increase is expected to remain sufficient to support the County’s needs over the next five years while maintaining strong reserve levels.
Chairman Michael Hipple was delighted to hear the news saying, “The success of the triple-A rating is a tribute to the guidance of the Board of Supervisors and the leadership of our County Administrator, Bryan Hill. And of course, this would not be a reality without our financial management team, specifically our current Director of Financial Management Services, Sue Mellen, and the late John McDonald.”
Bryan Hill, County Administrator added, “The James City County team has worked tirelessly over the past 10 months to develop a plan to address the five strategic initiatives. The news today is a major step to show our fiscal strength as well as the Board’s proactive approach towards ensuring James City County as a place for all to live, work and play. I am honored to be a part of such a great County, a great team and I anticipate more great news as we continue to move our County forward.”
David Rose, Senior VP and Manager of Public Finance with Davenport and Company, the County’s Financial Advisor, explained the decision factors, “The County is now in the rare position of being a triple AAA local government. One of the primary drivers for this has been the historic and continued financial management practices. Specifically, the rating agencies are increasingly concerned with a local government’s ability to not only plan for this upcoming fiscal year but also care about their future. The continued actions by James City County have clearly demonstrated to all three rating agencies that they are well managed and strategic with their operational budget and capital decisions.”
Media Contact: Sue Mellen, Financial and Management Services Director