New Castle, DE – The nation’s three major rating agencies last week awarded New Castle County their highest triple-A credit rating as they affirmed a stable outlook on the county’s economic health and applauded the Meyer Administration’s fiscal stewardship. Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings recognized New Castle County’s diverse and growing economy and an unemployment rate that comes in below the national average.
Each of the rating agencies expressed concern regarding expenditures that exceeded revenues over several years, drawing down county reserve funds in a manner that is not sustainable. They acknowledged significant progress under the Meyer Administration to align expenses with revenue and urged the county to continue that fiscal discipline to sustain a balanced budget and maintain stable reserve levels.
“We have worked hard over the past two years to balance our budget and put county government on a sustainable financial path,” County Executive Matt Meyer said. “Those difficult decisions have allowed us to provide the highest quality life-saving services for our people. Our superior credit rating affirms that we are on the right path and it helps us contain costs by borrowing for critical infrastructure improvements at the lowest interest rates.”
In its review, Moody’s credited the Meyer Administration with taking steps that addressed the years-long structural imbalance in county budgets, which had resulted in a decline in reserve funds. While still a cause for long-term concern, Moody’s highlighted the Administration’s prudent fiscal policies, including securing new sources of revenue and cutting costs, to bring county finances into balance.
Fitch highlighted the economic benefits from job expansion through the redevelopment of the Port of Wilmington, the proposed Wegmans and other redevelopment projects, while noting that increasing costs for debt service and pension obligations constrain the county’s level of expenditure flexibility.
S&P Global Ratings acknowledged strong economic development activity across the county and also highlighted the Meyer Administration’s efforts to manage sustainable debt levels and long-term obligations through steps that include full funding of annual pension obligations as positive credit factors. It noted the potential for fiscal pressures from pending property assessment litigation.
These ratings come as the County prepares to finance $78.4 million in general obligation bonds to finance capital projects previously authorized by County government. This is the county’s first general obligation bond sale since it financed $107.8 million in new borrowing in May 2017.
Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462