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FALK ANNOUNCES DANE COUNTY RECEIVES TWO ‘TRIPLE A’ BOND RATINGS

For more information contact:

Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823, or Chuck Hicklin (608) 266-4109

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/4/2002

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced today that Dane County has received a “Aaa” (Triple A) credit rating from Moody’s Investment Service for its $59.5 million of 2002 tax exempt General Obligation bonds and $19 million of taxable General Obligation bonds and notes to be issued this week.

A second international ratings agency, Fitch Ratings, also gave Dane County a AAA rating.

This is the highest credit rating category available and means the county gets the lowest loan rates.

“This is great news,” said County Executive Falk. “The Triple A rating confirms that Dane County is in excellent financial health. Our ability to borrow at lower interest rates will save money for Dane County taxpayers.”

Falk said, “Given the generally depressed economy nationwide, and the fact that other local and state governments are having their credit downgraded, this is important and good news. I’m grateful for the County Board’s good work in contributing to our financial well-being.”

Moody’s report stated, “Moody’s anticipates that the county will maintain strong operating flexibility and careful fiscal management,” and referred to the county’s “revitalized management team.”

Fitch’s report stated, “The administration is committed to enhancing social welfare and public safety programs while maintaining strong management practices that limit budgetary spending growth.” It also said, “The ‘AAA’ rating reflects Dane County’s growing tax base, consistently strong economic performance, solid financial management, and moderate debt levels.”

The tax exempt bonds will sell via competitive bid on December 5. The taxable bonds will be sold through negotiation on the same day. The proceeds of the tax exempt bonds will finance construction of the new Justice Center, the terminal expansion of the airport, purchase of land for parks and conservation, and other capital projects.

The taxable issues will be used to refinance the county’s prior service credit with the Wisconsin Retirement System, a move that will ultimately save the county about $23 million.
Only two Wisconsin counties have a “Aaa” bond rating—Dane and Waukesha counties.

Moody’s pointed to the following positive factors in giving the Triple A rating to Dane County:
-- Dane County’s growing and diversified economy, with strong tax base growth,
-- Careful, strict fiscal management, and
-- Moderate debt burden and rapid retirement of principal.

Moody’s, one of the nation’s leading credit rating agencies, reports that their Public Finance Department maintains over 40,000 ratings on the short-term and long-term obligations of about 20,000 issuers in the United States and Canada--states, provinces, cities, counties, school districts, Canadian Crown Corporations, and a wide range of other municipal entities. Moody’s rates in excess of 90% of the municipal market’s rated long-term volume annually.

According to Moody’s, bonds that are rated “Aaa” are judged to be of the best quality. They carry the smallest degree of investment risk and are generally referred to as “gilt edge.” Interest payments are protected by a large or by an exceptionally stable margin and principal is secure.

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