On January 22, Williamson County sold approximately $348 million in bonds for road and park improvements. Voters approved the sale of $412 million in bonds for roads and $35 million for parks in the November 2019 election.
“The interest rates we were able to obtain with our AAA bond rating averaged 2.32% for road bonds. According to Bloomberg, the last time the interest rate was this low was in 1956 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and Elvis Presley released his second studio album. It also was the year that Congress approved the Highway Act, which allowed the U.S. interstate highway system to be constructed. This seems very fitting since the majority of the bonds sold today will be used to increase safety and mobility on our Williamson County roads,” said County Judge Bill Gravell.
Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services once again affirmed their AAA rating for Williamson County bonds. Williamson County is one of only 8 counties in the State of Texas and 101 counties in the US to receive a AAA rating, the highest possible.
“We work hard in Williamson County to be great stewards of our citizen’s money. This AAA bond rating enables us to get the best possible interest rates so that we are able to do more with our tax dollars,” added Gravell.
In addition to selling road and park bonds, Williamson County refinanced approximately $11.6 million in Limited Tax Refunding Bonds, Series 2020, which resulted in a savings of $917,203. Over the course of the bond program since 2004, refinancing debt has saved more than $78 million, and the county has defeased (or paid down debt) $38 million.
“The County’s reaffirmed AAA rating and impressive financial performance are the reasons for our refunding success,” said Julie Kiley, Williamson County First Assistant County Auditor. “It is extremely gratifying that the bond buyers recognized the quality of our bonds.”
Standard and Poor’s ratings reflect on their assessment that Williamson County has a “very strong economy” with “very strong management, with ‘strong’ financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology” and “strong budgetary performance, with operating surpluses in the general fund and at the total governmental fund level” as well as “very strong budgetary flexibility, with an available fund balance in fiscal 2018 of 53% of operating expenditures.”
Fitch Ratings noted among their Key Rating Drivers that “the county’s financial flexibility is characterized by healthy reserve levels and pay-go capital program systematically funded from reserves in excess of the policy target.” Fitch also “expects the county would demonstrate strong financial resilience in a moderate economic downturn based on its solid reserves, revenue-raising capacity, expenditure flexibility and budgetary discipline.”
The ratings reports are available on the County’s website www.wilco.org on the County Auditor’s Office debt information page.