Johnston County’s growing economy and sound fiscal management have earned notice from one of the nation’s most-watched credit ratings services as Moody’s Investors Service announced Friday an upgrade of the County’s credit rating from Aa2 to Aa1, its second-highest. Stronger bond ratings allow Johnston County to borrow funds for capital projects on more favorable terms.
“This upgrade will, over time, save County taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments,” said Tony Braswell, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. “As we invest in new public infrastructure that enables Johnston County to keep up with its population and economic growth, it is critical that we be able to borrow affordably.”
Another national ratings service, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, affirmed this week its AA+ rating for Johnston County’s general obligation debt, that service’s second highest credit rating.
The ratings services cited Johnston County’s diversified economy, proximity to a large and growing metro area, and sound fiscal management in issuing its ratings. “County management typically budgets conservatively for expenditures, which has led to restoration of reserves over the last several years,” a statement from Moody’s said. “The county’s credit profile is supported by comprehensive fiscal policies to guide capital programming, debt management, financial reserves and budget development.”
Major corporate expansions during the past nine months by Novo Nordisk and Grifols also figured into the credit assessment. “[Johnston County] residents benefit from access to the broad and diverse Raleigh MSA, which we consider a credit strength,” the S&P report said. “The county also maintains its own diverse and expanding employment base.”
The upgrade from Moody’s and the S&P affirmation paves the way for Johnston County to issue a 2016 series of General Obligation bonds later this month. That package will finance $20.5 million in improvements to Johnston County Public Schools and $6.5 million for facilities at Johnston Community College.
“The priorities the County has set in recent years are yielding measurable benefits to the County and its taxpayers,” Braswell said. In the 2015 fiscal year, the County saw its fourth straight General Fund surplus. “I want to commend the entire Board of Commissioners for the high quality of their stewardship of Johnston County’s finances.”