(Santa Ana) - For the second time in two and one-half weeks, a major bond rating company has increased the credit rating for the County of Orange.
Fitch IBCA announced today that it was upgrading Orange County's rating on its 1994A Pension Obligation Bonds to AA- from BBB and the rating on the 1996 Recovery Certificates of Participation to A+ from BBB. On January 24 Standard & Poor's upgraded the County's credit rating on the 1994A Pension Obligation Bonds by five notches to "A-." The County's overall rating from S&P is "A." S&P credited the County's strong financial performance since it emerged from bankruptcy as well as its commitment to debt reduction for the upgrade.
Fitch pointed to the County's strong economy in addition to effective County management plus structural and fiscal reforms.
According to Fitch: Management and structural reforms implemented following the bankruptcy were instrumental in restoring the County's financial position and provide confidence that the current credit strengths are long-term. These changes include establishing a County executive officer, a debt review committee and investment oversight groups. The County now prepares a strategic financial plan annually and adheres to its priorities in budget preparations.
"The County of Orange now has the second highest credit rating in the state, according to Moody's Investors Service," said Chuck V. Smith, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "The County has moved past its dark days and through a lot of hard work to reach this point. All of us can take pride in this accomplishment."
"Five years ago, the County's bond rating was 'D' for default," said CEO Jan Mittermeier. "Today we've achieved bond ratings that are as high, if not higher, than any the County has earned before. We're very proud and grateful, but there's still work to do to get the County out of bankruptcy debt and continue re-shaping ourselves for greater effectiveness and efficiency."