Okanogan County receives A+ bond rating from Standard & Poor's

OKANOGAN – While pursuing the refinancing of $2.2 million of bonds used for construction improvements county received an A+ rating from national rating agency Standard and Poor’s.

County Treasurer Leah McCormack, with the approval of the Board of Commissioners, has been in the process of seeking refinancing of the Limited Tax General Obligation Bonds issued in 2003 for constructing improvements to the county’s public facilities. The action will save approximately $220,000 with lower interest payments; which is an annual savings of approximately $20,000 for the remaining 11 years. The county is timing the sale of the Refunding Bonds at a historic low in interest rates.

As part of the process for preparing for the Limited Tax General Obligation Refunding Bond sale, the county decided to pursue an underlying rating grade from the national rating agency of Standard and Poor’s. The county was recently notified that the underlying rating grade is “A+”.

“This is a great accomplishment, considering this was the first time we pursued a bond rating grade,” said Treasurer McCormack. “This rating grade reflects that the county is very well-managed and has strong financial practices in place for the benefit of our taxpayers. The higher the rating grade, the lower the interest cost.”

According to McCormack, the “A+” bond rating grade was based on five key factors: 1. Demonstrated track record of strong ending fund balances for the Current Expense Fund and Road Fund: 2. Small amount of outstanding debt; 3. Sound financial practices and policies; 4. Experienced management in operating the county in an efficient manner and 5. Signs of a growing economy.”

The county’s staff of Commissioner Jim Detro, McCormack, Auditor Laurie Thomas, Risk Manager and HR Director Nan Kallunki and Planning Director Perry Huston, along with Bond Underwriter Jim Nelson participated in and provided the information to Standard and Poor’s in the conference call, which dealt with the topics of management, finances, local economy, policies and long-term planning.

The Refunding Bonds will be underwritten by Martin Nelson and Company, a Washington investment banking firm, based in Seattle.