Barnstable County Receives AA Bond Rating from S&P

BARNSTABLE – Standard & Poor’s has issued aAA bond rating for Barnstable County, which will help keep borrowing costs low.

The rating is the second highest possible and will allow the county to get more favorable interest rates.

According to Standard & Poor’s, which considers itself the foremost source of independent credit ratings, the county has a very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.

Leo Cakounes, the chairman of the Barnstable County Commissioners, said getting the high rating is the best news anyone in his position could hear.

“The S&P not only stated that we are currently doing things to improve the government but we have plans for the future, and that is the most important part,” Cakounes said.

Cakounes said the rating is also good news for the county because it didn’t have a rating prior to S&P’s report.

“Instead of borrowing at 4.5 percent we might be looking at somewhere a little over 2 [percent],” he said.

Cakounes said the county needs to make sure it continues down its current path.

“We start bringing forward more precise policies and procedures to address any issue that come up and certainly the ones we are working on right now,” Cakounes said.

Current issues highlighted in a recent state auditor’s office review of the county include leasing practices, inadequately documenting expenditures and its process for financing capital projects.

According to the auditor’s report, although the county was authorized to issue debt in the form of bonds or notes to fund projects, the county routinely funded projects using money from its General Fund.

Many capital projects that were deemed necessary by the county were not completed as a result.

Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2015 the county approved $6,543,200 in capital projects. Because the county did not secure debt to finance these projects only $2,352,773 of the proposals were financed.

“We’ve been moving forward on this particular issue for almost three years now,” Cakounes said.

Now that the county has received the AA rating, plans call for officials to quickly issue a 15-year bond for over $4 million to be used for capital projects.

Cakounes gave credit to the current administration for working hard to improve the county’s financial situation.

“They too need to be very proud of the report card that they got, because I certainly am,” Cakounes said. “I’m proud of them and myself too for the work that I’ve done to help move this forward.”

Cakounes also credited the work by County Administrator Jack Yunits and Mary McIsaac, the county’s treasurer and finance director.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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