San Diego, California - Moody’s credit rating agency this week upgraded the County of San Diego’s rating to Aaa, putting the County in exclusive company.
The County now has the highest credit rating from all three of the top credit agencies. With Standard & Poor’s and Fitch reaffirming their AAA ratings for the County, it becomes one of only nine counties in the nation to have a “triple triple-A.”
Moody’s boost from Aa1 to Aaa reflects the County’s sound financial management, healthy cash and reserve levels, and diverse and strong economy. It also helps save money when it comes to financing, because the high credit ratings mean borrowing at lower interest rates.
“Securing the highest rating is not only great news for our county government, but for taxpayers who expect public agencies to keep their fiscal house in order,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Chairwoman of the County Board of Supervisors. “It gives us even more flexibility to fund future projects and reinvest in the county. The upgrade also underscores what outside experts have said before: The County’s finances are rock solid and much of the credit goes to its history of sound fiscal management.”
The county is one of only three in California to have Moody’s Aaa rating. The agency forecasts a stable outlook.
“Despite a multi-year recession that significantly impacted general economic activity and state funding support, the county has generated stable and consistent operations resulting in a very strong financial profile. We anticipate the county's conservative budgeting practices and improving economy will produce ongoing fiscal stability and well above average cash and fund balances,” Moody’s reported.
In addition, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch both affirmed the County’s ratings of AAA for ongoing financial strength, budgetary flexibility and “strong budgetary performance, with the general fund posting at least slight surpluses for the past three years.”
“The county’s general fund remains stable, with healthy fund balances. Recurring positive operating results are supported by strong institutionalized management policies and practices, including disciplined pension funding and effective actions to limit retiree pension and healthcare costs,” Fitch reported.
“Earning these ratings in light of the economic challenges we’ve faced is a huge accomplishment,” said County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer. "It underscores our ongoing commitment to fiscal health and long-term financial stability.”
The trifecta of top ratings builds on a track record going back to 2008, when S&P first issued the County its AAA rating. Fitch recalibrated the County to AAA in 2010, and the County has received the top ratings from both ever since.