In terms of financial health, Loudoun County got a clean bill this week as it celebrated a historically low interest bond sale and held onto its triple-A ratings from three of the major credit rating agencies.
Loudoun Board Chairman Scott K. York and Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) met with the ratings agencies in New York prior to the board’s vote on participating in Metro’s Silver Line project. Buona said during the board’s June 29 work session that the agencies suggested that rail would benefit Loudoun’s rating.
“Their concern was us opting out, not opting in,” he said, adding that concerns were raised about the county’s economic viability without the project. “I found that to be very enlightening.”
The result: All three of the nation’s top ratings agencies have reaffirmed triple-A ratings for the county. Moody’s has rated the county Aaa since 2004, while Fitch Ratings and Standard Poor’s have given the county AAA ratings since 2005.
“This is reflective of the Board of Supervisors’ commitment to sound fiscal policy and financial management as well as the hard work of county staff,” Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet said in a statement earlier this week.
York said the renewed rating also pays off for Loudoun taxpayers in the way of "the best possible interest rates to finance our capital projects.”
The board saw that in action Tuesday when, prior to the board's meeting, the county won a low interest rate for a $64.5 million bond sale at 2.31 percent, “which we believe is a record low for the county,” Hemstreet told supervisors.
Tuesday’s sale, approved by a previous bond referendum, primarily will pay for an Ashburn area middle school, a Dulles area high school and three elementary schools in the Ashburn, Leesburg and the Moorefield Station areas. The sale will also fund renovations at Park View High School.
Now, the Board of Supervisors has set its sights on how to ask voters for more bond money on the election ballot this fall.
Supervisors voted to place two bond questions on the ballot this fall, rather than the four recommended by the board’s Finance/Government Services Committee.
The four-question option would divided the school bond questions, supervisors said, while the adopted two-question version placed all the school items together in one question, with a separate question for fire and rescue equipment.
The items will be divided as follows:
- QUESTION: Shall the County of Loudoun, Virginia contract a debt and issue its general obligation capital improvement bonds in the maximum amount of $2,750,000 to finance in whole or in part, the cost to acquire and equip fire and rescue capital apparatus?
( ) YES
( ) NO
- QUESTION: Shall the County of Loudoun, Virginia contract a debt and issue its general obligation capital improvement bonds in the maximum amount of $136,150,000 to finance in whole or in part, the cost to design, construct and equip the new Loudoun Valley Estates II High School (HS-6) ($81,215,000), the new Dulles South Elementary School (ES-21) ($28,820,000), and the Loudoun Valley High School Renovation ($26,115,000)?
( ) YES
( ) NO
Learn more about Loudoun bond-rating status online.