Johnson County Government receives another Triple AAA bond rating for its strong financial management

Construction of large grey commercial building

Johnson County continues to score a triple when it comes to earning top bond ratings, leading to competitive and lower-than-anticipated interest rates on approximately $39 million in bond issues for capital projects.

On Thursday, Aug. 10, the county received AAA ratings from all three bond rating agencies — the highest possible rating — due to its strong financial standing. These bond ratings from Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service help determine the ease with which the county can borrow money and the interest rates it pays.

“The continuation of our Triple AAA rating means lower interest rates for county government and savings for our taxpayers,” Chairman Mike Kelly said. “These public capital investments will grow our environmental sustainability, public safety, library services and economic development.”

County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson agreed. “Johnson County has maintained a Triple AAA bond rating since 2009,” she added. “This continuation of the top ratings from all three rating agencies reflects the excellent credit quality of Johnson County as well as our staff’s ongoing priority to use resources efficiently and their expertise in the bond issuance process.”

On Thursday, the board authorized four separate bond series, each rated AAA, and approved their sales by unanimous vote.

Two series of General Obligation Internal Improvement Bonds totaling $16,840,000 were approved for airport land acquisition and Phase 1 improvements for development of the New Century Commerce Center. Phase 1 of the New Century Commerce Center is currently under construction, involving two buildings with more than 1.4 million square feet, targeted for completion by the end of this year. The commerce center will be built out in four phases.

About $22 million in two Lease Purchase Revenue Bonds were issued for four projects, including:

  • Approximately $3 million for the recently opened Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Overland Park.
  • $3.8 million for the Lenexa Med-Act Facility set to become operational in the first quarter of 2024.
  • Nearly $9.9 million for the Olathe Med-Act Facility now in the design phase with targeted completion by the third quarter of 2025.
  • Nearly $6.5 million for the Merriam Plaza Library, under construction and expected to open in the second quarter of 2024.

The bond rating agencies cited the county’s strong economy and financial operations, established fiscal policies and manageable debt burden for scoring the latest bond issues at AAA. Summaries included:

  • S&P: County has a very strong economy with ongoing tax base growth; very strong management with strong financial management policies; history of positive operating performance; maintenance of very strong reserves.
  • Moody’s: County maintains strong fund balance and liquidity ratios; expectation that the financial position will remain stable, supported by strategic budgeting practices and a strong underlying economy.
  • Fitch: County has superior gap-closing ability to manage through a moderate economic downturn, given its demonstrated history and ongoing commitment to maintaining a very strong fund balance and superior inherent budget flexibility.
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