LAWRENCEVILLE -- Even with the economy down, Gwinnett's credit rating is still up.
All three major credit rating agencies -- Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch -- reaffirmed the government's AAA rating during a review for the refinancing of 2003 general obligation bonds, which funded the expansion of the county jail.
The ratings mean the county can take advantage of lower interest rates, which could save as much as $1.8 million in interest during a negotiated sale later this month, Finance Director Maria Woods said.
"This is great news," said Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who helped lead the county's pursuit of the highest allowed ratings when she was a county staffer. "Gwinnett County's sound financial management over the long-term has paid off once again with tangible results. I am pleased that we can reduce debt payments and save taxpayer dollars."
The three rating agencies also reaffirmed the top rating , which Gwinnett has held since 1997, on other county debt, including $969.5 million in water and sewer bonds and $94.7 million in Development Authority bonds, a press release said.
"The county was able to generate these strong results ... from conservative budgeting of its tax digest reductions, position vacancies, savings from limited capital contributions, and other departmental reductions," a report from Standard and Poor's said.
While Moody's report praised budget leaders for being diligent and proactive in forecasting the financial situation, Fitch reviewers noted the county's position as a regional economic and employment center.
"The regional economy remains well positioned for growth over the long term, benefiting from solid in-migration patterns, a well-educated workforce, a large and diverse economy, and below-average living costs," the Fitch report said.