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Bond raters impressed by county offering $19.6 million securities sale planned


Carroll officials impressed representatives from two bond-rating houses this week when they presented the county's financial plan, a county adviser said.

"The county does a great job," said A. Samuel Ketterman of Alex. Brown and Sons Inc., which advises county officials on financial matters. "They bring documentation to substantiate everything they say."

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell and three county staff members met with two bond houses Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss a Carroll proposal to sell $19.6 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a variety of projects.

Yesterday, Mr. Dell and Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy signed a resolution authorizing the sale of the bonds. Bids will be taken Oct. 20 at the Alex. Brown office.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge did not attend yesterday's meeting because she was at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Business to Business Expo, her secretary said.

The county probably will hear by late next week whether its bond ratings have changed since last year, said William L. Henn, the county's bond counsel from Piper & Marbury.

Carroll has an Aa rating from Moody's and an AA- rating from Standard & Poor's. The ratings mean Carroll's bonds are of high quality and carry lower interest rates.

Four or five "syndicates," or groups of bankers and investment banking firms, usually make bids, Mr. Ketterman said.

Last year, the managers of the syndicate that offered the county the lowest interest rates were Ferris, Baker and Watts Inc. and Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. Inc.

Carroll issued $27 million in bonds last year and has issued a total of $78 million in bonds in recent years.

This year, the county proposes to issue about $14.8 million in new bonds to pay for general government, recreation and parks, public works and education projects.

The county also plans to refund $4.95 million in 1982 bonds and issue them at a lower interest rate, county Comptroller Eugene C. Curfman said.

The county could save as much as $1.2 million by doing that, Mr. Ketterman said.

The bonds were issued at 8.76 percent. If the county were to get 4.76 percent -- the interest rate on Oct. 1 -- it would result in the substantial savings, he said. The 4.76 percent interest rate is not guaranteed, he noted.

The proceeds from the sale of the new bonds will go into an escrow account, which will be used to pay the old bonds when they come due in December, Mr. Ketterman said.

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