IOW credit rating upgraded

Published 10:50 am Friday, July 12, 2013

ISLE OF WIGHT—Isle of Wight County has recently earned a third upgrade to its credit rating. Standard & Poor’s, an international credit rating agency, has raised the County from AA- to AA, according to Don Robertson, director of Information Resources and Legislative Affairs. He added that the agency’s previous upgrade was done in 2008.

Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, the other two organizations, have “affirmed the county’s excellent credit ratings of AA and Aa2 respectively with a stable outlook,” Robertson said.

Robertson was part of a team, which included County Administrator W. Douglas Caskey, Director of Budget and Finance Michael W. Terry and County Attorney Mark Popovich, who recently went to New York City with the county’s financial advisor, Davenport & Company LLC. There they presented the county’s qualifications – short and long-term – and economic plans in anticipation of an upcoming bond refinancing.

“The excellent credit ratings will allow the county to receive very favorable and considerably lower interest rates resulting in significant savings to taxpayers over the life of the bonds,” Robertson said.

“The other part is that the rating agencies really signal that the county is really well managed in fiscal matters,” he continued. “How does Isle of Wight stack up with other entities around the country? It’s always encouraging whenever you get an affirmation or upgrade that hard work is being rewarded.”

“It was great news,” said JoAnn Hall, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “It’s reassuring to know we’re doing things right.”

For the second year in a row, Robertson added, Isle of Wight County has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its comprehensive annual financial report.

He explained that the credential is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and reporting. Further, earning the certificate shows a notable achievement by a government and its management.

“The GFOA award indicates that the County’s CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program,” said Robertson, “including demonstrating a constructive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR. The county’s CAFR received a grade of ‘Proficient’ in 17 different grading categories.”

The GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.