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Howard County maintains AAA bond rating for 19th year

For the 19th consecutive year, Howard County received the highest possible bond rating from three top bond rating agencies.

Out of more than 3,000 counties, Howard is one of 44 counties to receive AAA rating from all three agencies. The bond rating agencies — Moody's Investor Services, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor's — recognized the county's "strong financial policies and practices, vibrant economy and diverse revenue streams," according to a county press release.

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The rating allows the county to issue debt for capital projects at favorable interest rates.

In a statement, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman wrote the rating was a "testament to the success of our strong financial management and sustainable policies."

Kittleman has directed all county departments to submit realistic five-year plans for the county's Capital Improvement Program. The administration also limited general obligation bond issuances to $96 million in fiscal year 2016 from $120 million in fiscal year 2015, according to the press release.

A recent report by the Spending Affordability Advisory committee urged the county to further reduce its debt by limiting bond authorizations to $85 million.

The rating assures large institutional buyers that the county's bonds are "a relatively low-risk, safe investment," wrote County Council Chairman Calvin Ball.

When awarding the rating, Fitch cited the county's "stable wealthy economic base" while Standard and Poor's praised the county's strong economy, management and liquidity. Moody's lauded the county's "prudent management practices," "conservative budgeting" and "strong demographics," according to the release.

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