County’s credit rating stable

Rating services credit economic development, urge reining in expenses

— Two rating services recently assigned high quality, low-risk credit ratings to Albany County before its sale of $37 million in general obligation bonds.

Moody’s Investors Service assigned an “Aa3” rating for the county’s bonds sold earlier this month, and Standard & Poor’s assigned a similar “AA” rating. The “Aa3” from Moody’s is the lower end of high quality, low credit risk rating. S&P’s “AA” rating is its second highest. Moody’s said $34.9 million of the bonds will go toward bond anticipation notes and $2.6 million will fund capital improvements.

The county also had Moody’s affirm the same “Aa3” rating for its $248 million of outstanding debt.

County Executive Dan McCoy said his administration was confident the county’s bond ratings would remain stable even before the services released their assessments.

“My administration was pleased to see that we have again received an above average rating,” McCoy said. “My administration is doing all it can to keep our finances on track and this report reflects that.”

Albany County Department of Audit and Control officials said the ratings for bonds being sold is good news for taxpayers.

“Both agencies cited the county’s improved financial condition, below-average unemployment rate and continued economic development as having factored into their decision,” department officials said in a statement. “The results are especially encouraging in such a difficult municipal bond market and the recent Detroit bankruptcy fallout.”

Moody’s also said its rating was based on the county’s “narrow” general fund balance and “manageable” debt.

McCoy said the county’s reserve funds stood at almost $23.2 million at the start of 2012 and though the final audit for last year isn’t complete, the “preliminary numbers point to a substantial increase.”

The state comptroller recommends municipalities keep 10 to 15 percent of their overall budget in reserve. McCoy said the county keeps around 5 percent, but his administration is working to reach recommended levels.

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