Highest Credit Ratings: Saving on Financing Costs
by Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman // Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
It was a proud moment to read earlier this year what the three major credit rating agencies had to say about Gwinnett County in their financial reports. Here are highlights from what they said about our county government:
“…very strong management with strong financial policies and practices, strong budgetary performance, and… a very strong debt and contingent liability position…” – S&P Global
“…strong fiscal position bolstered by formal financial policies and conservative budgeting and low debt…” – Moody’s Investor Services
“…strong revenue and expenditure flexibility, its maintenance of healthy reserves, low long-term liabilities and prudent fiscal management through conservative budgeting without use of reserves…” – Fitch Ratings
Their reports favorably affect the interest rates the County pays to borrow money. We’ve had the highest ratings for the past 21 years, putting us among 49 other counties in the top two percent of more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. for fiscal soundness.
We recently issued about $96 million in bonds for construction at the Infinite Energy Center. This is the first time in almost 10 years that we’ve borrowed money for construction.
We have signed a design contract for the first phase that will renovate the convention, ballroom, and meeting spaces. Plans for the campus also include outdoor gathering spaces, more parking, and an entertainment district, called Revel, with restaurants and shops to be developed by North American Properties.
Doubling the size of the exhibit hall will allow us to attract about 70 percent of the convention and meetings industry. According to Explore Gwinnett, the Infinite Energy Center already provides a $200 million impact on our local economy annually.
Two years ago, the Board approved the master plan for the Infinite Energy Center and voters approved $67.34 million in 2017 SPLOST funding for expansion projects at the center, including the design contract we just approved.
I’m so grateful to Gwinnett voters for recognizing the ability of SPLOST to enhance our community’s quality of life. And I’m grateful to my fellow board members for supporting the center’s expansion for the future enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
A new fire station 15, new libraries, the new Bay Creek police precinct, senior center renovations, and $437 million for road improvements are other examples of projects currently being funded by the voter-approved one-cent sales tax without the need to borrow money.
SPLOST funds are also at work building new courtrooms and a parking deck at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. We look forward to soon opening many new facilities that reflect the Gwinnett standard.