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2014-01-16

County gets AA rating from S&P

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Bandera County Commissioners received a belated Christmas present at their first meeting of the New Year and it was wrapped in gold paper and tied with a gilt ribbon - literally.

During the Thursday, Jan. 9, meeting, R. Dustin Traylor, director of RBC Capital Market, the county's financial advisor, announced that Standard & Poor's (S&P) Rating Service had raised the county's credit rating to AA from a previous A+. This reflected a two-step increase and has been described by many as a "big deal."

The increase reflects Bandera County's ability to meet its financial obligations in full - and on time. According to the S&P website, the AA rating indicates "a very strong capacity to meet financial commitments." The highest rating is AAA.

Traylor attributed the welcome news to an improving county economy and excellent work by Auditor Christina Moeller and her staff, coupled with astute fiscal management by the commissioners court, led by Judge Richard Evans.

"When it's time to re-finance bonds, you will have access to capital markets at decreased interest rates, perhaps as much as a quarter of a percentage point," Traylor explained. "This is due to a strong economy and property values and strong financial management."

He also pointed out the county's fund balance in excess of the suggested 30 percent - perhaps as much as 35 to 45 percent - as indicative of the county's financial security. "Additionally, the county's debt is less than 2 percent of appraised property values," Traylor said. "The county's debt burden is very low."

Evans noted, "This puts us in line with Kerr and Gillespie counties." Thinking positively, he added, "It also means in the event of a flood, we won't have to borrow so much money."

Precinct 3 Commissioner Bobby Harris called the raised ratings a "tribute to Judge Evans' fiscal policies and doing what is best with the county money."

"We all work together and hopefully we won't have to borrow money for a while," Evans said, cautioning, however, "Those who will eventually takeover will also have to be frugal."
After Traylor offered kudos to the court and staff "for the way you do business," Harris quipped, "Do you want us to take over the state and fix that?"

Evans rejoined, "You'd have to start farther upstream than that."