Prince William County AAA Credit Ratings Affirmed

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Provided by Prince William County

All three ratings agencies, Moody’s, Fitch and S&P Global, have affirmed Prince William County’s AAA credit rating. The county plans to sell bonds competitively on Oct. 25, and the ratings were obtained in advance of that sale. The proceeds of the bonds will support the school division’s capital program.

The county’s growing and diversifying tax base was an important factor in the decisions. The relative affordability and well-educated workforce support favorable economic and demographic growth trends. Additionally, the county’s unemployment rate is below the state and national levels. The county navigated the difficulties of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by exhibiting flexibility with its budgeting and willingness to reduce spending. It also took many measures to address the associated economic fallout using grants and providing other support to the affected industries. The county has maintained its financial health and remains strong, adapting to the pandemic and minimizing its impact.

All three ratings agencies noted the vital role played by the Principles of Sound Financial Management that has guided Board decisions since 1988. The Principles underscore the importance of maintaining sound reserve levels, a thoughtful planning and budgeting process, and taking measures to ensure resilience. These policies have provided stability and continuity over the years, even during challenging economic conditions. In the growing discussion about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), all three agencies noted that issues are minimal, and the county is believed to have the capacity to respond to climate or other events.

Specifically, S&P Global said, “The county has an excellent history of conservative budgeting and forecasting practices, supported by well-adhered-to fiscal policies. We anticipate that, moving forward, the county’s performance will remain strong as it maintains strong budgetary controls.” Moody’s said, “Prudent financial management and sustained economic growth will continue to support the county’s sound credit profile.”

Fitch said, “The county’s superior budget flexibility and ample unrestricted general fund balance allows it to manage through economic downturns without diminishing its overall financial flexibility.”

Chair Wheeler responded to this favorable news, stating, “The Board of County Supervisors’ continuous focus on making smart and strategic investments in the county, while providing the necessary services to foster a diverse and thriving community, is recognized as Prince William achieves three affirmations of its AAA credit rating. I’m pleased the rating analysts acknowledge the county’s important progress made in attracting new businesses, diversifying our tax base, and strengthening our financial condition.”

“The county’s superior bond ratings and outstanding credit underscore the county’s ability to pay its debts and assures the taxpayers the county is securing the lowest possible interest when repaying bonds sold by the county,” said the county’s Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Attreed. “The AAA is a testament to the fiscal policies of the governing body and the prudent fiscal management by county leadership.”

With more than 3,100 counties in the nation, Prince William County is among 49 counties to receive a AAA rating from all three agencies, affirming the county’s status as a fiscally responsible and sound local government.

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