BEND, OR -- Deschutes County could soon be able to borrow money at a better interest rate, thanks to a higher credit rating from Moody's Investors Services, a national bond credit assessment agency. County Finance Director and Treasurer Wayne Lowry says the rate went from Aa2 to Aa1 because of several favorable factors, "The tax rate capacity; Real Market Values in Central Oregon are increasing and have been for some time; community wealth factors, in other words, the citizens income per capita, and that's higher here than it is in a lot of other places. And, that makes Deschutes County a better credit risk than maybe some other local governments." He says the county also doesn't owe the market a lot, "We have a low debt burden already. We've been able to do a lot of what the county's done without borrowing."
Lowry tells KBND News, "It's hard to quantify exactly how much the county would save being a Aa1, instead of Aa2, but it is cheaper to borrow money for projects: road projects, solid waste projects, things like that." He says it's recognition of the smart choices the county has made as it grows, diversifying the economy and employing conservative policy management, "The ratings agencies have recognized that 'Hey, Deschutes isn't just any county in Oregon, it's different than it used to be, and it's stronger, financially, than it ever has been'."
County Commissioners will discuss the new bond assessment rating at their Wednesday meeting, and its impact on future decisions.