Fitch has assigned an AA+ rating to Parker County's transportation bonds based on the county's commitment to prudent budgetary practices and robust reserves, according to the international rating agency.
Parker County Judge Mark Riley commended the Commissioners Court and Auditor Mike Rhoten and his staff for their work in strengthening the county’s finances to the 2nd highest rating that can be attained.
George Williford, Vice-President of First Southwest Company, congratulated the county on the news and their excellent economic management.
"A rating of "AA+" is only one notch from the highest possible rating of AAA," Williford said "The increase from the prior rating should save the County approximately $85,000 for each $10 million issued or borrowed, based on 25 year repayment. Therefore, on the $76.2 million newly authorized road bonds, this rating upgrade will result in savings of at least $650,000. In addition, the higher rating will increase the number of potential investors and market reception for the bonds."
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Williford said the upgrade is indicative of the economic progress in the county, but also the high level of financial management of the county's resources.
Fitch said the upgrade reflects application of Fitch's revised criteria for U.S. state and local governments, which was released on April 18, 2016 and includes a more focused consideration of economic factors.
The improved rating reflects the county's favorable revenue framework, solid operating performance and moderate liability burden.
"Balanced operations are expected to persist given management's commitment to conservative budgeting," the report read.
Rhoten said his office maintains a strict enforcement of the statutory laws governing finances.
"As the Parker County Auditor, news of AA+ of our county's economic stability and financial strength is truly gratifying," Rhoten said. "The increased rating reflects the cohesiveness of the Parker County Judge and Commissioners Court and the budget consciousness of all Parker County Offices and Departments. Infused to this equation is the Parker County Auditors' Office strict adherence to the numerous statutes governing financial oversight for all county offices and officers."
While the county’s growth has helped financially, it has created a strain on the existing roadway system throughout the county.
Riley said the influx of population to Parker County means the county has to be proactive and aggressive with transportation improvement projects.
"We have a proven track record when it comes to managing transportation improvements, having completed the project of the 2008 Transportation Bond within 5 years and under budget," he said. "This bond will be no different as it relates to my effort and that of Commissioners Court to see the work is done properly and efficiently."