San Mateo County Earns Top Credit Rating in the State

The independent report praised the County's elimination of nearly 750 jobs and the passing of the half-cent sales tax, among other factors, as evidence of its strong financial health.


San Mateo County was given the "A+" of credit ratings this past week from Standards & Poor's.

Furthermore, San Mateo County is the only one out of California’s 58 counties to secure AAA ratings from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s rating services, which County officials said last week is "evidence of the County’s sound fiscal health."

In a recent report, Standard and Poor’s cited the "wealth and depth of the county’s economic base" and "moderate to low debt levels, resulting in part from a history of pay-as-you-go capital spending," among other positive indicators, when evaluating the County's status.

"These reports affirm what our residents know: that San Mateo County provides excellent public services while constantly watching the bottom line," said Don Horsley, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

So, what does this mean? The strong ratings mean the County can borrow money at low interest rates to finance major capital projects, saving taxpayer dollars. 

In a statement announcing the positive credit rating, County officials suggested "a new fire station and the replacement jail project" as two of the "major capital projects" this new credit rating could help the County borrow funds for.

Standard and Poor’s also noted the County has eliminated 727 positions over the past four years, while at the same time winning voter approval for a vehicle rental business license tax and a half-cent sales tax, which takes effect April 1, as further evidence of sound financial decisions that help the County's rating.

The report stated, "In our view, the county’s finances have been consistently very strong," and noted the "county’s excellent financial performance … as well as a favorable position regarding long-term pension and retiree health care liabilities."

Read the full report here.

PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - What do you think of this report? Do you agree with Standards & Poor's statements about the County's financial status and recent financial decisions? Do you think the County should borrow money to fund big projects such as the new jail and a new firehouse? 

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Michael G. Stogner March 26, 2013 at 05:30 PM
"The strong ratings mean the County can borrow money at low interest rates to finance major capital projects, saving taxpayer dollars." This translates to 3 Supervisors can borrow the funds to build the new Jail without the need to get voter approval.
David Airey March 26, 2013 at 05:56 PM
We really do live in an Orwellian reality - praise for laying off 727 working people in almost the same breath as 'the county can borrow money at low rates to finance a new jail' (oh. sorry - meant to say 'replacement' jail!). How do these folks keep a straight face?
Michael G. Stogner March 26, 2013 at 07:26 PM
http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_17368588?nclick_check=1 No mention of San Mateo County's $962M unfunded liabilities
Claire Felong March 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Jails are becoming places for men who come out of the military with no skills except fighting to watch over other young men who have no skills except street fighting. Let's use the money for vocational training for both of these groups of young men. Lets move away from a military economy before we become another Rome - beautiful place but I've never seen so many men in so many types of uniforms.


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