LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County recently went out to bond for $7.9 million with a sweet interest rate of 2.61% over 10 years.

County Treasurer Joseph G. Keller said the interest rate was made possible through the Aa3 bond rating from Moody’s Investor Services.

The bonds were sold to finance building and grounds projects and additional road paving this summer.

“We stayed at the same rate we’d had since it was upgraded to an A1 rating in 2016,” Keller said Tuesday. “This (rating) is as high as we’ve been. It was unchanged this year.”

Keller said the county’s financial team sat down earlier this summer to review questions Moody’s representatives had posed. The team includes Keller and his deputy, Matthew Keller, Deputy Administrator Kelly Reed, Budget Officer Ryan Ferguson, Real Property Tax Services Director Daniel Martonis and Economic Development, Planning and Tourism Director Crystal Abers.

Moody’s has called the county’s financial team “experienced and conservative,” the treasurer pointed out.

Keller said the county’s credit strengths include a modest debt burden; an experienced management team; and not relying on casino revenue or fund balance for current operations.

The county faces credit challenges, including a modest tax base and below-average wealth levels, Keller said.

There are several factors that could lead to a further upgrade in the county’s bond rating, Keller noted. They include increasing the county’s financial reserves and a substantial expansion of the tax base.

“If we maintain a good credit rating, we get a better (interest) rate, Keller said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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