Shared from the 3/28/2019 Reading Eagle eEdition

Berks County attains highest bond rating


Lowest interest rates available after the AAA designation

Berks County has attained the AAA rating, the highest bond rating issued by Moody’s Investors Service.

And as a result, the county will now qualify for the lowest interest rates available when issuing bonds.

Commissioners Christian Y. Leinbach and Kevin S. Barnhardt said Wednesday that the designation is the result of the work of Berks Chief Financial Officer Robert J. Patrizio and the entire finance team.

“A lot of credit goes to Bob for having the foresight to talk to Moody’s and make the case that we deserved this rating,” Leinbach said. “This is a message that fiscal responsibility matters.”

In assigning the AAA rating, Moody’s cited the county’s strong financial position that has exhibited a great deal of stability and is characterized by ample reserves.

Additionally, the service said in a press release, the rating reflects the large and growing tax base, average resident wealth and income levels, slightly elevated debt burden and manageable pension liability.

Barnhardt stressed that single-digit tax increases in 2013 and 2018 have put the county on sound footing without having to drain reserves to deliver balanced budgets.

Moody’s said the stable outlook reflects its expectation that the county’s financial position will continue to remain strong with ample reserves despite plans to make draws for capital expenditures. It also expects that the county will continue to see growth in the tax base and the debt burden will continue to moderate.

Barnhardt said the AAA rating will allow Berks to save money on future projects.

“We’re now in a great position,” he said.

Contact Karen Shuey: 610-371-5081 or kshuey@readingeagle.com.

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