(Santa Ana) - For the
second time in two and one-half weeks, a major bond rating
company has increased the credit rating for the County
Fitch IBCA announced today that it was upgrading Orange
County's rating on its 1994A Pension Obligation Bonds
to AA- from BBB and the rating on the 1996 Recovery Certificates
of Participation to A+ from BBB. On January 24 Standard
& Poor's upgraded the County's credit rating on the
1994A Pension Obligation Bonds by five notches to "A-."
The County's overall rating from S&P is "A."
S&P credited the County's strong financial performance
since it emerged from bankruptcy as well as its commitment
to debt reduction for the upgrade.
Fitch pointed to the County's strong economy in addition
to effective County management plus structural and fiscal
According to Fitch: Management and structural reforms
implemented following the bankruptcy were instrumental
in restoring the County's financial position and provide
confidence that the current credit strengths are long-term.
These changes include establishing a County executive
officer, a debt review committee and investment oversight
groups. The County now prepares a strategic financial
plan annually and adheres to its priorities in budget
"The County of Orange now has the second highest
credit rating in the state, according to Moody's Investors
Service," said Chuck V. Smith, Chairman of the Board
of Supervisors. "The County has moved past its dark
days and through a lot of hard work to reach this point.
All of us can take pride in this accomplishment."
"Five years ago, the County's bond rating was 'D'
for default," said CEO Jan Mittermeier. "Today
we've achieved bond ratings that are as high, if not higher,
than any the County has earned before. We're very proud
and grateful, but there's still work to do to get the
County out of bankruptcy debt and continue re-shaping
ourselves for greater effectiveness and efficiency."