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Two Triple-A bond ratings earned for Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center bond issue

Johnson County has taken the final financial step to proceed with repurposing the former King Louie building into the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. On Thursday after approval by the Board of County Commissioners, the Public Building Commission issued a series of lease purchase revenue bonds valued at $21,460,000. Prior to the issuance, Johnson County Government earned Triple-A “stable” credit ratings from Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investor Services…the highest credit rating possible.

The Triple-A ratings were one of the factors that led to Johnson County Government’s ability to beat the market Thursday by issuing the bonds at a 3.36 interest rate while the market was at a 3.75 interest rate. The bond issuance attracted two bidders and the winning bid came from Robert W. Baird and Company, Incorporated.

Most of the $21,460,000 will go towards renovations at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. $2.9 million will pay of the current lease with UMB. Once renovated, the building will serve as the new home to the Johnson County Museum. It will also include a flex theatre and rehearsal space for the Theatre in the Park’s off-season performances, space for Johnson County Park & Recreation District (JCPRD) art and culture programming, and a new advance voting site. A soft opening for advance voting is slated for July 2016 with the Johnson County Museum and JCPRD taking occupancy in 2017.

“Achieving a better-than-market interest rate puts us in a great position as we move forward with the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center project,” said Hannes Zacharias, County Manager for Johnson County. “The Triple-A ratings demonstrate our staff’s ongoing priority to use resources efficiently and wisely, for not only this project, but for everything we do.”

The bond rating agencies made the following statements in their evaluations:

  • Moody’s: The stable outlook reflects our view that despite planned draws on reserves, the county will maintain strong credit attributes that benefit from a diverse and stable tax base, strong management team and stable financial operations.
  • Standard & Poor’s: We view the county’s management as very strong, with “strong” financial management policies and practices…we believe the strength and diversity of Johnson County’s core economic structure will likely allow it to maintain a significant degree of financial flexibility.

About Johnson County, Kansas

Located in the southwestern quadrant of the Kansas City Metropolitan Region, Johnson County, Kansas is a community of choice with a current population of more than 570,000, making it the most populated of the 105 counties in Kansas, but traditionally having the lowest mill levy in the state. For more information visit the county’s website at www.jocogov.org.