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Richland County gets best financial rating ever from Moody's Investor Service

Published By Richlandsource on April 13, 2022
Marilyn S. John In The News

MANSFIELD -- Richland County government's financial picture continues to improve, according to Moody's Investor Service, which recently gave the county its highest-ever rating.

County commissioners are scheduled to meet with Auditor Pat Dropsey on Tuesday to discuss the improved rating, which moved to "Aa3," one notch above its previous "A1" rating.

Moody's is a global company that rates fixed-income debt securities, assigning ratings on the basis of assessed risk and the borrower's ability to make interest payments.

The Moody's upgrade comes three years after Standard & Poor's upgraded Richland County to its highest-ever rating at "A+." Improved ratings can lead to lower interest rates when bonds are needed to fund projects.

It's also the second improved rating from Moody's in the last two years. The ratings company improved the county to "A1" from the previous "A2" designation in March 2020.

 "We are quite pleased with this rating as the first sentence of the summary provides the rationale for the increase, 'Richland County benefits from its strong financial position, large and growing tax base, and low debt burden,' " Commissioner Tony Vero said.

Vero pointed out the county has reduced its total debt by one third since 2017, when he and Commissioner Darrell Banks joined now-state Rep. Marilyn John on the three-person county governing board.

John was replaced on the board by Cliff Mears in January 2021 after she was elected to represent the county in Columbus.

"This reduction in debt came at no sales-tax increase to the taxpayers of Richland County," Vero said.

The rating is two notches ahead of the City of Mansfield. Moody's reaffirmed the City of Mansfield's A2 credit rating in February and removed the "negative outlook" assigned to the city's financial picture in September 2020.

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