Gwinnett County officials learned today that Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed the government”s AAA credit rating with a stable outlook. The rating affirmed Gwinnett County”s debt of $19.1 million in general obligation bonds, $806.3 million in water and sewer bonds and $89.9 million in development authority bonds.
Fitch noted in its report that Gwinnett County”s strong reserves, stable operating performance and favorable debt position were key drivers for its rating. The report said “careful budgeting and financial monitoring has contributed to a lengthy history of positive operating results.” In addition, the report noted the County”s strong fund balance position and “prudent approach” to retirement funding. It specifically pointed out that the OPEB trust has a 59.9% funded ratio, which is unusually high relative to other U.S. local governments.
Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash said, “This is great news for our county. The top rating from Fitch is solid evidence of our financial strength and stability in addition to our sound financial management policies.”
In addition, Fitch cited Gwinnett”s participation in a metropolitan economy as favorable. According to the report, “the economy is diverse with major employers spanning numerous industries and is home to a significant number of Fortune 500 companies.” The report also notes the county”s low unemployment rate and above-average household income.
Gwinnett County has held the highest bond ratings from all three major rating agencies since 1997. Fitch”s reaffirmation of Gwinnett County”s AAA is the result of a routine review process undertaken by rating agencies. The other agencies are likely to perform a similar review according to their own practices.