Allegheny County's bond rating improves

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Allegheny County's credit score has been bumped up, reflecting the administration's effort to save more money for a rainy day.

Financial rating agency Standard & Poor's has increased the county's long-term bond rating outlook to "stable," a notch above its previous "negative" status, to reflect the county's improved finances and ability to pay back its debt.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald lauded recent efforts to replenish the county's reserve fund, the so-called savings account that had dipped dangerously low over the past decade.

"We are really pleased by this news and are proud that our work to stabilize the county's finances has been recognized by Standard & Poor's," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "This would not have been possible without county council and their commitment to improve our financial condition by authorizing our most recent bond re-financing and providing for a $2 million line item in the budget to increase our fund balance."

The county has retained its A+ bond rating, S&P's third-highest grade. By the rating agency's definition, that means Allegheny County has a "strong capacity" to meet financial commitments, though it remains "somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances."

Officials recently voted to borrow $31 million to pay for infrastructure repair, keeping the county's debt load level. They also refinanced $156 million in existing debt, saving a projected $5 million over the next decade.

As for the county's savings account, administrators had $12.6 million socked away at the end of 2012 -- twice the previous year's balance. They still have a way to go, with experts suggesting they have at least $40 million in the savings account.


Andrew McGill: or 412-263-1497.


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