Weber Co. earns AAA bond rating
By JESUS LOPEZ JR. Standard-Examiner staff email@example.com
OGDEN — If fiscal policy was an Olympic event, Weber County would have the gold medal.
Standard & Poor’s awarded the county a AAA bond rating last week on its sales tax revenue bonds. That gives Weber County a better credit rating than the U.S. government.
The rating means more than bragging rights. Weber County Treasurer John Bond said it signals financial institutions that the county is a lowrisk borrower, which correlates into lower interest rates, bigger savings on bonds and less taxpayer money spent on interest payments.
“A lot of it is how the commissioners and the county employees themselves are able to set goals and achieve them,” Bond said.
County officials will use that savings to pay for its commitment to the Weber County Ice Sheet project. The joint project with Weber State University will result in a new ice sheet and an indoor multisport practice facility.
The new facility will be a two-story building with an ice sheet on the bottom floor and an indoor multi-use practice field on the upper floor. The expansion will add about 73,000 square feet of space, including a second ice rink, to the existing 57,000 squarefoot building.
A portion of the bonds will also be used to refinance bonds the county issued in 2003 to build the Health Department building. The refinancing will save approximately $36,000 per year in interest for next 11 years. Bond said Weber is only one of three counties in Utah with a AAA bond rating “I think it’s a natural consequence of sound fiscal policy,” Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch said.
The county maintains good reserves and takes on little debt. “We don’t fund day-to-day operations with one- time funding or debt,” Hatch said. Bond credited Weber County’s sound financial management for earning the recognition from one of the nation’s top bond-rating agencies.
Commissioner Craig Dearden said the county has a tradition of being financially conservative, making it a top priority to have strong fund balances and solid management practices.
The county earned the AAA rating about four or five years ago, Bond said, when it expanded the animal shelter. “Being able to have that type of rating,” Bond said, “it seems to be a real feather in our cap.”