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The original item was published from 3/5/2013 4:55:00 PM to 4/16/2013 12:05:02 AM.

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Posted on: March 5, 2013

[ARCHIVED] County Bond Ratings Approved by Fitch

County Bond Ratings Approved by Fitch

On February 15, 2013, Fitch Ratings Fitch Ratings completed its review of Ellis County’s financial profile and reaffirmed the County’s general obligation bonds at “AA” rating. General obligation bonds are obligations of the county, secured by a pledge of its full faith and credit and taxing power.

“I am so pleased to receive this news,” County Judge Carol Bush said. “Annually, the County Auditor and I teleconference with Fitch Ratings service as they conduct a routine surveillance review on Ellis County and our bond rating.
Fitch’s conclusion reaffirms the conservative fiscal policy that has been the hallmark of Ellis County Commissioners Court.”

Fitch Reviews is an independent firm that provides an opinion on “relative ability of an entity to meet (its) financial commitments.” According to the report, after its investigation and analysis of the County’s financial obligations and overall financial picture, Fitch gave the County a “Stable Financial Profile.” The report states that: “The county maintains its sound financial position and solid reserves in line with historic trends. Conservative spending and budgeting practices typically enable financial performance that exceeds budget. Management maintains some revenue flexibility in its moderate overall tax rate.”

Judge Bush also pointed out a key factor in the Fitch Rating. “During the interview, Fitch analysts acknowledged the positive influence of the County’s tax rate” she said. “Without that additional revenue generated during the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year, our bond rating could very well have suffered.” Ratings play a critical role in determining how much the County would have to pay to access credit markets, i.e., the amount of interest they pay on their issued debt.

Also of note to Fitch was the fact that “management is proactively considering further cost-saving options, the most material of which could include the privatization of county jail operations.” At a December 18th workshop of the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court, Johnson County officials including Sherriff Bob Alford, reported annual savings of a million plus dollars to the Johnson County budget as a result of contracting out its jail management. Bush noted that the Commissioners Court is just beginning the process of investigating whether similar savings could be achieved here. “We are looking at all cost-saving measures that are consistent with the quality of service we provide to our community and that make sense in today’s economic environment.”

The Fitch Report is available online at the County’s website, www.co.ellis.tx.us. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

See the Fitch Report...
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