Smithfield, NC – Johnston County's growing economy and sound fiscal leadership have earned notice from two of the nation's most-watched credit ratings services as S&P Global and Moody's Investors Service announced upgrades of the County's General Obligation bond rating to AAA and Aaa, respectively. Both ratings are the highest the agencies award.
Higher credit ratings enable Johnston County to issue bonds for capital projects on more favorable borrowing terms, saving County taxpayers on debt servicing costs. The two agencies updated their ratings in conjunction with the County's upcoming issuance of $30 million in general obligation school bonds. Those funds, which Johnston County voters approved by a wide margin last November as part of a larger bond referendum, will support construction of new school facilities in Johnston County.
"This rating is another example of this Board taking steps to responsibly plan for the future of the County and continuing to stay the course,” said R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr., Chairman of Johnston County’s Board of Commissioners. “I want to express my gratitude to County staff and all of the Boards that came before us on their diligent work and being attentive stewards of taxpayer funds. The Triple-A ratings are excellent news for our County as we move into a period of time where there are several major projects on the horizon."
Johnston County joins just 10 other North Carolina counties in earning the highest possible credit rating from both agencies. The news comes less than two months after Johnston County Commissioners voted to reduce property tax rates from 73 cents to 69 cents per $100 in value.
The ratings services cited Johnston County’s growing population, diversified economy, proximity to a large and growing metro area, and sound fiscal management in issuing its ratings. “The upgrade of the issuer rating to Aaa reflects large surpluses recorded in fiscal 2022 and expected for fiscal 2023,” excerpts of the Moody’s reports said. “Additionally, the rating reflects a local economy which continues to increase in population. The stable outlook is based upon future economic growth potential as part of the greater Research Triangle economy, expected adherence to sound policies and growth and maintenance of reserves levels guided by a prudent management team."
S&P Global said: “The rating reflects our view of the county's growing economy, with a tax base projected to exceed $30 billion in the next three years, as well as consistently strong financial performance and flexibility, with a strong track record of proactive management practices. The county's use of conservative budgeting assumptions has typically led to positive operating results, enabling it to build and maintain very strong general fund reserves. We believe that prudent budget management and ongoing economic development will continue to support the current rating.”
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who chairs the N.C. Local Government Commission, also weighed in on the accomplishment. "Johnston County is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. Good ratings like these just don't jump up on the table by themselves. It's thanks to the employees, taxpayers, and because of transparent, competent government led by past and present local elected officials," Folwell said.
For additional information about Johnston County, visit https://www.johnstonnc.com.