Antrim County, MI 2012 GO Bond Rating Raised To 'AA+' On Stronger Economy, Finances

NEW YORK (S&P Global Ratings) April 23, 2019--S&P Global Ratings raised its long-term rating to 'AA+' from 'AA' on Antrim County, Mich.'s series 2012 limited-tax general obligation (GO) bonds. The outlook is stable.
"The higher rating reflects our opinion of the county's improved economy based on its growing tax base and its debt and contingent liability also improved given its lack of additional debt and faster payoff of its debt," said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Moreen Skyers-Gibbs. Antrim County's long track record of achieving positive operating results due to its conservative and tight budgeting continues to support strong budgetary performance and very strong budgetary flexibility, with reserves in excess of 200% of expenditures. These credit strengths are, however, partially offset by what we consider its below-average income levels and high unemployment rate due to the limited, recreation-based local economy, and limited formalized fiscal policies and practices.
The series 2012 limited GO bonds are secured by the county's limited-tax GO pledge.
Antrim County encompasses 475 square miles in northwestern Michigan's Lower Peninsula and serves an estimated population of 23,061.
"The stable outlook reflects our expectation that management's conservative budgeting practices will lead to continued balanced operations and the maintenance of very strong reserves that will continue to support its strong budgetary performance and flexibility," added Ms. Skyers-Gibbs. It also reflects our expectation that the economy will likely remain strong and generate continued revenue growth. Additionally, given the lack of the need for additional debt, its debt and contingent liability will remain very strong. Therefore, we do not expect to change the rating within our two-year outlook period.
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