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Harford's Craig explains trip to New York during council hearing on bonuses

Harford County Executive David Craig released a statement explaining his trip last week to meet with three bond-rating agencies in New York, an annual event.

Craig said he spent two days meeting with representatives of Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings "in an effort to secure the best rating for… Harford County."

He was accompanied by the county treasurer, administration director, chief of budget and management research and economic development director.

Craig caught some fire at the Dec. 6 Harford County Council meeting, where Council President Billy Boniface especially questioned Craig's decision to be in New York during the council hearing on the proposed one-time bonus for all county employees.

His statement, released Dec. 8, said the county received a AAA bond rating from Moody's in 2010 and AA+ from Standard and Poor's.

Craig said he and the administration are hopeful the county will retain the triple-A bond rating despite the rough economy.

"While Harford County remains strong, we are in an unfortunate situation in that the federal debate raging in Washington continues to affect local government bond ratings," Craig said. "Our visit with the bond-rating agencies is critical as we try to obtain the best possible bond rating which ultimately saves the taxpayers of Harford County millions of dollars."

County economic development director Jim Richardson said the county's economy is well-positioned to grow now that more than 8,300 jobs have relocated here because of BRAC.

The Harford County Council approved resolutions Tuesday night for two bond sales, expected to be executed in January. The results of the sales would be dependent on the bond rating the county gets, which is typically announced a few weeks before the bonds are sold.

The first set of bonds would be about $55 million, including $40 million for various capital projects and $15 million for water and sewer projects. 

The capital projects feature $228,446 for planning the Youth's Benefit Elementary School replacement, $14 million for Red Pump Elementary School, $3 million for the Harford County Government Southern Annex, $750,000 for modernization of Joppatowne Elementary School, $10 million for renovation of Harford Community College's Susquehanna Center, $131,847 for design and development of a Campus Hills Elementary School, $1 million for the Churchville recreation complex, $850,000 for enlarged gymnasiums and joint facilities, $3 million for a solid waste transfer station, $600,000 for the Fallston Youth/Senior Center, $900,000 for the Whiteford library expansion, $600,000 for the North Avenue/Henderson Road bridge, $300,000 for the Red Pump roundabout and $20,414 for a roof replacement at Ring Factory Elementary School.

The water and sewer projects include $6 million for enhanced nutrient removal work at Sod Run, $1 million for replacement at Church Creek Pump Station, $5 million for expansion of Abingdon water treatment plant and $2 million for the Deer Creek pump station for Baltimore.

The county also hopes to refinance $8.8 million in debt.  

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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