Arlington's Aaa /AAA/AAA Bond Ratings Reaffirmed

Published on May 24, 2017

  • One of only nine Virginia counties to receive highest rating from all three credit agencies

  • Agencies praise County's solid financial position, conservative budgeting

For the 17th year in a row, all three credit ratings agencies have reaffirmed Arlington County's debt ratings of Aaa/AAA/AAA -— the highest rating. Arlington is one of just 45 Counties in the United States, and 9 in Virginia, to receive the highest rating from all three credit agencies for its bonds.

"As the County continues to fund core governmental functions, while also addressing the growing needs of Schools and WMATA, it is extremely important to maintain the County's triple-AAA ratings," said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz. "This allows for continued investment as outlined in the County's Capital Improvement Plan, at the lowest possible costs."

Moody's issued their rating Tuesday, May 23. Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings issued their ratings earlier today.

  • Moody's noted Arlington's "solid financial position with sound reserves and conservative budget management, and moderate debt position with manageable future borrowing needs."

  • Fitch noted in their key rating drivers that the County's "strong revenue and expenditure flexibility, evidenced by its conservative budgeting and close monitoring of expenditures have resulted in the solid maintenance of reserves and liquidity." 

  • Standard & Poor's noted that the County's GO bonds are rated above that of the U.S. government's rating of AA+ because "the County can maintain better credit characteristics than the U.S. in a stress scenario." 

Highest ratings ensure lowest interest rates for 2017 bond sale

Having a Aaa/AAA/AAA rating ensures that the County will enjoy lower interest rates when it sells the Series 2017 General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds the week of May 29. These are bonds previously approved by voters to finance capital improvements, Metro and other County Board-approved uses. At its May 23 Recessed County Board Meeting, the Board authorized the sale of up to $185.1 million in General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds and up to $200 million in bond refunding. The County refunds bonds whenever it can achieve lower interest rates. Under current market conditions there will not be a refunding, however, the authority remains in place through FY 2018 should rates improve and a refunding opportunity exist. In the past six years, the County has saved taxpayers more than $36 million through refunding bonds at lower interest rates.

About General Obligation Bonds

General Obligation Bonds are debt instruments issued by states and local governments to raise funds for public works. Arlington's GO bonds are 20-year bonds backed by the County's full faith and credit. Ratings agencies base their bond ratings on their analysis of the locality's ability to pay back bonds through taxes and revenues. To learn more about how the County uses bonds, visit the County website.