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Montgomery County Executive Elrich and Council President Katz Announce County’s Continued ‘Triple-A’ Bond Rating and for Being Among Nation’s Best for Fiscal Responsibility

For Immediate Release: Friday, July 10, 2020

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Sidney Katz today announced that the County has maintained its “Triple-A” bond rating for 2020 from the three major Wall Street bond rating agencies. The County continued its status as a top-rated issuer of municipal securities, with the highest credit rating possible for a local government. The rating is significant amidst the COVID-19 health crisis.

Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings all affirmed the Triple-A rating—the highest achievable—for the County. Montgomery County has earned Triple-A ratings from Moody's Investors Service, Inc. every year since April 1973 (48 consecutive years); from Standard & Poor’s every year since 1976 (45 consecutive years) and from Fitch every year since 1991 (30 consecutive years). 

All three rating agencies emphasized Montgomery County’s large and diverse tax base, proximity to the District of Columbia, growing commercial and residential development in areas like Bethesda—as well as the County’s strong fiscal management policies. S&P Global Ratings cited the County’s very strong local economy and demonstrated resilience to economic cycles, in addition to a very strong management team that would continue to make necessary adjustments to maintain structural balance. Moody’s Investors Service opinion was that, despite the pandemic, the County has adequate reserves to support revenue shortfalls and will adjust revenues and expenditures as necessary. Fitch Ratings stated it believes that the County’s reserve position, substantial expenditure flexibility and ability to raise revenues position the County well to manage through the economic downturn. Fitch also said that its expectation is that management would restore reserves quickly during a recovery period.

The Triple-A bond rating enables Montgomery County to sell long-term bonds at the most favorable rates, saving County taxpayers millions of dollars over the life of the bonds. The rating also serves as a benchmark for numerous other financial transactions, ensuring the lowest possible costs in those areas as well.

“With all the economic challenges we have faced this year as a result of COVID-19, I am pleased that we have once again received a Triple-A bond rating from all three rating agencies,” said County Executive Elrich.  “Montgomery County has a long history of fiscal responsibility. Long before the pandemic, we have remained focused on setting clear priorities and finding innovative ways to improve government operations. This news shows that the rating agencies understand we are making our government more efficient and stronger for the long-term. During these difficult times, we will continue to be good stewards of County finances as we navigate our way through recovery. I want to thank the County staff who have shown incredible dedication and perseverance. They have conducted their work deliberately and with a commitment to the financial health of our County and a better quality of life to our residents.”

Council President Katz said: “Receiving a Triple-A bond rating in the midst of the fiscal challenges that we are facing because of the global pandemic is the result of Montgomery County’s continuous, long-term and strategic fiscal management. This designation signifies that Montgomery County is among the best in the nation for fiscal responsibility. We are proud that we have retained a Triple-A bond rating since 1973, which we understand is the longest run of any county in the United States.”

Councilmember Nancy Navarro, who chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, said: “As chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, I am extremely proud of the fiscal policies that the County has put in place over the past decade, such as the six-year fiscal plan that increased the County’s reserves to 10 percent of all County revenues and the creation of a Consolidated Retiree Health Benefits Trust. The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of long-range fiscal planning and having robust reserves to cover the costs of essential services for residents during challenging times. Montgomery County has institutionalized strong fiscal management practices and managed our debt obligations, while at the same time making the critical economic development investments needed for our future growth."

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Release ID: 20-368
Media Contact: Barry Hudson 240-300-7348