Why Is This Important?
Independent Bond ratings alert investors to the financial stability and outlook of the governmental unit issuing the bond, as measured by a range of financial and other variables. These ratings influence interest rates, investment potential, and bond pricing.
A bond rating is a credit risk evaluation. There are three major rating agencies for municipal bonds: Moody's Investors Service, S&P Global (formerly Standard & Poor's) and Fitch Ratings. Oakland County uses S&P Global and Moody's, which rate over 80% of all bonds.
In assigning a rating for general obligation bonds the rating agencies assess the following factors: local economy; debt structure; financial condition; demographic factors; management practices of the governing body and administration.
To provide an example of what the ratings mean, Moody's "investment grade" ratings (ratings in the Baa category or higher in contrast to lower rated issues that are considered speculative) are described below.
“Aaa” - Issuers or issues rated Aaa demonstrate the strongest creditworthiness relative to other U.S. municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues.
“Aa” - Issuers or issues rated Aa demonstrate very strong creditworthiness relative to other U.S. municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues.
“A” - Issuers or issues rated A present above-average creditworthiness relative to other U.S. municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues.
“Baa” - Issuers or issues rated Baa represent average creditworthiness relative to other U.S. municipal or tax-exempt issuers or issues.
Oakland County’s top AAA/Aaa bond rating allows the county to borrow at the lowest possible interest rate, saving county taxpayers millions of dollars in future costs. In April of 2022, both Moody's and S&P Global reaffirmed the County's AAA bond rating.
The Triennial Budget for FY 2024 – FY 2026 continues the County’s practice of a balanced, transparent, and fiscally-responsible budget. The bi-partisan budget was passed in September 2023 with no use of the budget surplus for ongoing operations and maintains a fund balance well above 30% of the county’s general fund budget, both of which are key practices for maintaining the county’s AAA bond rating.
For more information, visit the Department of Management and Budget.