PHOENIX—February 20, 2018—The three major credit rating agencies agree: Maricopa County is a safe bet and deserves to keep its AAA bond rating, thanks to strong financial practices and management. A strong credit rating means county bonds can be issued with lower interest rates. Practically, that means investments in infrastructure will cost less and can move forward more quickly.
“This is what I mean when I talk about a government that optimizes,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Chucri, District 2. “By spending wisely and not overextending ourselves, we’ve created an environment where we can stretch each dollar further to make life better for the people of Maricopa County.”
The three credit agencies—Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P—all cited the county’s modest debt burden, financial flexibility, and strong growth prospects in assigning Maricopa County the highest possible bond ratings. S&P noted Maricopa County’s “very strong management” and “strong financial policies and practices.”
Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P issue two different ratings to government entities such as Maricopa County. The long-term issuer default rating (IDR) applies to situations in which the County is considering voter-approved, or General Obligation, debt. Maricopa County’s IDR is AAA, the highest possible. The second rating concerns certificates of participation (COP’s). These are annually appropriated County debt. Maricopa County had $106.6 million COP’s, series 2018A, and $95 million COP’s, series 2015, and these were both rated AA+, the highest possible COP rating. Series 2015 will be paid in full on July 1, 2018. The county’s long-term debt remains low as compared to other governments.