County earns ‘A,’ sells bonds

Published 1:21 am Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The county has earned an “A” in finance – garnering a new long-term rating by Standards & Poor’s for the refinancing of its general obligation warrants – and saving the county more than $450,000.

The county obtained the rating to refinance two general obligation warrants while borrowing an additional $2 million for a match for state highway grants for a total of $12 million to resurface an estimated 75 miles of major connector routes throughout the county.

County Administrator Brenda Petty said the bonds were sold Monday afternoon.

“We got a great review,” Petty said. “They said the county had very strong operating reserves and low debt burden. The letter said, ‘In our view, the preceding credit strengths are partly offset by the county’s limited local economy and low wealth and income indicators.’

“We should be proud,” she said. “Plus, it keeps our payment the same until 2017, which is no increase in debt service.”

Monday morning, Petty said bank officials projected the move’s potential savings at $398,870; however, the bonds were sold that afternoon at a final savings of approximately $452,000.

The county received a “AA” at its last S&P rating in 2005. And while that may seem like a decline, it’s really not, Petty said.

“Those 2005 warrants were insured at a cost of $77,417,” she said. “Since 2005, all the companies, that in the past insured governmental debt of this nature, are no longer in business. Although the ‘A’ rating received on the 2012 warrant issue appears to be a decline from the 2005 rate, it’s actually a great rate, considering the new warrants are uninsured and rely on the full faith and credit of the county only to repay the debt.”

In other business, the commission:

• heard from Florala Mayor Robert Williamson, who asked for the county’s assistance in stopping the establishment of a proposed transition home for sex offenders near Natural Bridge. Williamson said was trying to bring awareness to the project, hoping “enough people would speak out.”

• approved the purchase of a new pickup truck for the appraisal department.

• voted to administer the South Alabama Regional Council on Aging in-home service program.

• approved a contract with the state department of youth services for one bed at the detention center.

• approved a three-year contract renewal with RDS to collect the county’s sales tax revenue.

• gave final approval to the Dunn’s Crossing Subdivision.

The next meeting will be held on Fri., Sept. 28, at 9:30 a.m.