Johnson County maintains “Triple Triple-A” in latest bond ratings

(JOHNSON COUNTY, Kansas – Oct. 28) - On Thursday, Oct. 28, Johnson County Government earned another round of a coveted “Triple Triple-A” credit rating with an AAA grade from all three bond rating agencies, leading to a successful issuance and sale of two new bond series.

Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investor Services each awarded Johnson County the Triple-A “stable” rating – the best rating possible. The bond ratings allowed the county to obtain money at a very competitive interest rate on Thursday in the issuance of approximately $41.5 million in general obligation internal improvement bonds and approximately $6.5 million in lease purchase revenue bonds.

“We are pleased to continue to receive the highest rating possible from these highly respected agencies,” said Ed Eilert, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. “The residents of Johnson County should be confident that we do business in a manner that allows us to achieve very competitive interest rates.”

County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson agreed. “Johnson County has maintained a “Triple Triple-A” 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 wisely.”

Almost $43 million in General Obligation internal improvement bonds (including bond premium) will be used to finance seven Johnson County Wastewater capital projects, including $16.1 million for predesign services of major improvements at the Nelson Complex in Mission.

Other bond funding includes $7.43 million in electrical system improvements, $5.8 million for Dykes Branch force main replacement along Mission Road in Prairie Village and Leawood and $6 million for Rock Creek, Martway, and 75th Street and Nall Avenue Improvements in Mission and Overland Park.

Bonds will also be used to fund $3.4 million for improvements to the Mill Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility in Shawnee, $2.8 million for upgrades to the wastewater collection system and $1.4 million for new chemical tanks at the Blue River Wastewater Treatment Plant in Leawood. 

The seven projects are included in the JCW’s capital improvement plan in the county wastewater system serving approximately 500,000 residents in 16 cities in Johnson County.

Slightly more than $900,000 in GO bonds will fund airport road improvements at the New Century AirCenter near Gardner.

Approximately $3.8 million of the Lease Purchase Revenue Bonds will finance exterior siding improvements to the New Century Adult Detention Center and upgrades to the security electronic systems at the New Century Adult Detention Center and the Central Booking Facility in downtown Olathe. Both facilities are operated by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The proceeds will also fund approximately $860,000 for improvements to the elevators in the County’s Administration Building in Olathe.

Almost $2.9 million in lease purchase revenue bonds will be used for plans to build a new MED-ACT facility in Shawnee.

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

  • Fitch Ratings: The ratings reflect the county's strong revenue and expenditure frameworks, low long-term liabilities and the highest gap closing ability and financial flexibility as the county emerges from the pandemic related economic downturn.
  • Moody’s: The credit profile of Johnson County benefits from a very large tax base that serves as a major employment center in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and strong resident income and wealth levels. Further, the county's financial management is very strong, and its healthy financial reserves have increased annually in recent years.
  • Standard & Poor’s: We expect budgetary performance will likely remain relatively stable in fiscal years 2021 and 2022, due to management's conservative budgeting and continued revenue growth. The county's very strong economy and participation in the broad and diverse Kansas City metropolitan statistical area also contributes to rating stability. Therefore, we do not expect to change our rating during the next few years.

On Thursday, the board approved the sale of the GO bonds to Piper Sandler & Co, Minneapolis, MN with a true interest rate of 1.85%. There were 9 bidders.

The board, both in its role as the Board of County Commissioners and in its role as the Public Building Commission, approved the issuance of the lease purchase revenue bonds. The board then approved the sale of the bonds to UBS Financial Services, Inc., New York, NY with a true interest rate of 1.3%. There were 4 bidders.


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