Baltimore County Receives Triple-A Bond Ratings, Signaling A Strong Economy
BALTIMORE COUNTY - On Monday, Baltimore County announced that the three major rating agencies had reaffirmed the county's triple-a rating, making Baltimore County one of only 2% of counties nationwide to receive the highest bond rating from all three agencies.
Moody's Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, and S&P Global Ratings all awarded the county a triple-a rating. The rating will allow the county to continue issuing bonds at the lowest possible interest rate, saving taxpayers millions annually.
"Baltimore County is proud to have again retained the highest possible financial ratings, affirming our ongoing responsible financial stewardship and making us among a select few counties across America to have earned this distinction" Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. "Baltimore County remains on strong fiscal footing and we will continue to focus on equitably investing in our residents' priorities and further strengthening our long-term fiscal health."
The rating agencies highlighted the county's "broad and diverse economy" and "history of strong financial operations supported by conservative budgeting and comprehensive management practices."
In 2018, when Olszewski first took office, the county faced an $81 million structural deficit and was at risk of losing its triple-a bond rating. In 2019, the county council approved tax hikes to raise revenue and combat the growing deficit.
Income tax was increased for the first time since 1992, from 2.83% to 3.2%, generating an additional ~$33 million annually. Another tax was levied on cellphone service at 8% per account.
In 2019, Olszewski released a statement saying that the public "overwhelmingly" supported more significant investment in the community.
"As we faced this challenge, we were honest with the public and engaged them in identifying solutions. In doing so, we heard overwhelming calls from the community for greater investments—not less—in education, public safety, and other core government services," The county executive wrote.
The reaffirmed rating comes amid Olszewski's fifth annual budget town hall series and the recent BCPS budget approval by the Board of Ed. According to BCPS Chief Financial Officer Chris Hartlove, the current operating budget for the year starting July 1 would be $23 million above last year.
Olszewski will submit his proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget to the County Council on April 13, 2023.