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County bond rating increases




BOZEMAN – On Feb. 27, the Gallatin County Commission announced that Standard and Poor’s Rating Services has upgraded the county’s bond rating to “AA+“ from “AA” based on new rating criteria recently released by S&P.

Although the county does not have any immediate need for the issuance of debt, any future borrowing would now have lower interest costs for the county and its taxpayers. The upgrade is applicable to all general obligation bonds and limited tax general obligation bonds of the county.

S&P noted the following key factors as reasons for the new rating in its credit report:

• The county’s budgetary flexibility remains very strong, with the general and public safety fund balances equal to 25.5 percent of combined expenditures.

• The county’s budgetary performance has been strong overall with a combined general and public safety fund surplus equal to 4.5 percent of combined expenditures in fiscal 2013.

• Supporting the county’s finances is liquidity that S&P considers very strong, with total primary government cash and liquid investments exceeding 15 percent of total governmental fund expenditures and 120 percent of total governmental funds debt service.

• The county’s management conditions are very strong with strong financial practices.

• The county’s debt and contingent liabilities profile is strong, with total governmental fund debt service as a percentage of total governmental fund expenditures at 13 percent, and net direct debt as a percentage of total governmental fund revenue at 116 percent.

Standard and Poor’s is a nationally recognized independent agency that evaluates the credit quality of both public and private sector debt and securities. The last rating upgrade for Gallatin County was in June of 2013, when the bond rating was raised from “AA-“ to “AA.” The outlook for the new rating is stable.

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