The Gainesville Times
21 July 2011, p. A3
“Standard and Poor has announced that it has given a ‘AAA/Stable’ rating for Prince William County on its Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) bond issuances. With this new rating, Prince William has now received AAA status from all three of the major credit rating agencies (Fitch, Moody’s and S&P) – a measure that only 72 out of the 17,669 local governments throughout the country have achieved.
“Credit ratings are tied strongly not only to the financial management of a local government, but also to the economic climate. To this end, S&P noted, ‘The county’s financial position is, in our view, strong and has remained consistent throughout the recession owing to conservative financial management. The county’s revenue stream is diverse, with property taxes accounting for approximately 70 percent of general fund revenues.’
“Regarding the stability of the AAA rating, S&P reported, ‘The stable outlook reflects our opinion of the county’s consistent financial performance throughout the recession, despite a significant decline in [real estate] assessments in 2009 and 2010. We expect the county’s capable management team will maintain a solid financial position, as it beings to see growth in the tax base and economically sensitive revenues.
” ‘The county’s strong wealth and income levels, continued economic development, and participation in the diverse Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) are also stabilizing factors. We do not anticipate changing the rating within the two-year outlook parameter.’
“Prince William County continues to be viewed by rating agencies as a key economic engine in the Metropolitan area, and throughout the nation. ‘Anchored by the military and government, the county’s economy continues to show above average employment indicators,’ reported Fitch Ratings.
“Moody’s reported that it ‘believes that Prince William County’s efforts to diversify the economy and resulting commercial development will partially offset the impacts of the region-wide real estate downturn … Industries targeted for significant expansion include life sciences and data storage, as well as the defense-related sector as Quantico Marine Base is located within the county.’
“The county’s finances and budget are managed by County Executive Melissa Peacor, Deputy County Executive Chris Martino, Budget Director Michelle Casciato and Finance Director Steven Solomon.”
“PW earns bond upgrade”
by Tara Slate Donaldson, The Gainesville Times
6 May 2010, pp A1, A11
“A lower interest rate saves you money every time you borrow.
“That simple truth highlights Prince William County’s big announcement Tuesday — that the county’s bond rating has been upgraded.
“The bond rating agency Moody’s upgraded the county’s status from Aa1, which is good, to AAA, which is excellent.
“The news caused major excitement for county officials this week. And while it may result in bewildered looks from residents, the results will be tangible.
“A good bond rating means the county can borrow money at a lower interest rate. That will save the county taxpayers money in the long run as the county borrow to build schools, roads, and other facilities.
“County Executive Meslissa Peacor said that if the county had achieved the AAA bond rating earlier, it would have saved $44 million over the course of its 20-year building projects.
“Supervisors credited Peacor and her staff with the upgrade.
” ‘It’s a huge feather in their caps,’ said Coles Supervisor Marty Nohe (R).
“Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R) said Moody’s cited county officials’ good financial management as the reason for the upgrade.
“Spending cuts, stable tax rates, a hefty reserve fund and the continuity of management were listed as the county’s strong points, Stewart said.
“By ‘continuity of management,’ the rating agency meant that when County Executive Craig Gerhart retired last summer, the board replaced him with Peacor, who had served as his deputy and the county’s
“Other executive vacancies within the county government have also been filled by promotions of longtime county staffers recently.
” ‘This validates the efforts of this Board of County Supervisors and the management staff we have put in place to run county government,’ Stewart said.
“The chairman noted that even during the economic downturn, the county has lowered its crime rate, added money to its reserve fund and cut taxes from 2007.
” ‘We now have been rewarded with a bond rating that most jurisdictions long for but never attain,’ he said.
“In addition to the Moody’s upgrade, the county also got an upgrade from Fitch. That rating agency had already listed Prince William as AAA but had given it a ‘negative watch’ status.
“A county official likened that to AAA-minus.
“On Tuesday, Peacor announced that the negative watch had been dropped by Fitch, giving Prince William its perfect AAA back.
“Only seven other localities in the state have AAA ratings from both agencies.”