WilCo's new AAA bond rating could save taxpayers about $10 million

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Earlier this month the county received a AAA bond rating from both Fitch’s Ratings and from Standard & Poor’s for $153.165 million in limited tax refunding bonds, series 2012.

In February, the Williamson County Commissioners Court authorized County Auditor David Flores to refinance some $132 million in road bond debt over the next 12 months.

The county is anticipating a net interest rate of 2.45 percent — dropping from about 4 percent — for savings of $9.4 million over the life of the debt.

The document approved by the commissioners also allows for additional bonds to be refinanced over the next year for a total of $250 million with at least a 4 percent savings.

Assistant County Auditor Julie Kiley told the commissioners in February that this will result in savings of $600,000-$800,000 per fiscal year.

The money, she said, will be doubled back into the debt service fund, ultimately helping the taxpayers over the course of 15 to 20 years — it won’t generate a windfall to help pay for road and bridge projects, but it will help by lowering the debt and by helping keep the tax rate low.

“We’re going to continue to be able keep that portion of our tax rate stable,” she said. “We made a commitment to the voters that we would not exceed a certain rate when we issued the voter-approved portions of our debt and we will continue to keep that portion of our tax rate stable.”

Fitch also affirmed the county’s AAA rating on its $373.3 million unlimited tax bonds outstanding and its $288.8 million limited tax and pass-through toll revenue obligations outstanding.

In its report, Standard & Poor’s indicated that the county’s decision to fund prioritiy items, such as road projects, allowed the county to maintain stable debt ratios through the past seven years.

The report also states that “the county’s financial performance and position remain very strong in Standard & Poor’s opinion. Since fiscal year 1993, management has consistently met or exceeded the previous minimum general fund balance policy of maintaining reserves equal to 16 percent of total general fund expenditures. Management recently changed this policy to be 30 percent of total general fund expenditures, and has met this requirement for the past six years.”

Flores said careful spending on infrastructure, through a time of very high growth throughout Williamson County, have resulted in the refinancing and savings to be possible.

“It is important to remember that Williamson County has built its financial house on solid cash reserves and infrastructure investment pragmatically over time,” Flores said. “The AAA ratings from independent financial analysts again verify our conservative approach on addressing growth demands while securing the financial health of the county. The infrastructure has been instrumental in stabilizing our tax base and the taxpayers with their approval of the bonds have created permanent value into the future.”

For more information or to see the ratings reports, log onto the county website at www.wilco.org. The report is available under the button for county finances.

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