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Harford County Maintains Bond Ratings

County Executive David Craig announced the 2013 ratings.

The world's three prime credit rating agencies have given Harford County the same ratings it had last year, County Executive David Craig announced  Wednesday.

Each year, Standard and Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings identify how stable governments are for investments and rank them accordingly; a triple-A rating is the most secure.

Craig traveled to New York with four members of his administration to present the county's financial outlook to the credit rating agencies in January.

In 2013, Moody's and Fitch each gave Harford AAA ratings. Standard and Poor's gave the county a rating of AA+. These were the same ratings the county received last year.

"Although we would have liked to have received an AAA bond rating from all three organizations, we are grateful for maintaining our ratings from 2012,” Craig said.

With its new ratings, Harford County is "positioned well for a successful future," said Jim Richardson, director of the Office of Economic Development.

Along with its AAA rating, Moody's issued a negative outlook for the Harford County economy because of its ties to the federal government.

According to a statement from Moody's, Harford County is at risk because it is among the counties that are "highly dependent on federal employment and spending, [have] a significant health care presence in their economies, have direct health care operations or high levels of short-term and puttable debt."

Lower ratings mean governments pay higher interest rates to investors on money borrowed for various projects, which is more costly to taxpayers.

After Harford County received its latest bond ratings, the County Council voted unanimously to approve more than $110 million bonds in a special session Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun reported.

County Treasurer Kathryn Hewitt told The Sun that funds would go toward projects that have a "long-term" use, like schools or recreational facilities.

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