DeKalb financial outlook improves to ‘positive’

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Two major credit agencies—Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings—both have revised DeKalb County’s financial outlook from stable to positive, county officials announced today (July 24). 

Additionally, Moody’s assigned DeKalb County its highest rating for short-term municipal bonds. The agency gave its MIG 1 rating, the best assessment a county can get, to DeKalb’s $43.7 million general obligation tax anticipation notes.

“The improved outlook shows that DeKalb is getting its fiscal house in order,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond. “Our efforts to eliminate deficit spending, rebuild cash revenues and reduce the burden on county taxpayers are important steps to support long-term economic growth in DeKalb.” 

According to Moody’s, the positive outlook reflects the likelihood that DeKalb’s financial position will improve, given the trend of operating surpluses and growing reserve levels. The upgrade also reflects the continued growth in the county’s already sizeable tax base.

Fitch Ratings cited the county’s “improved budgetary management and progress in building reserves to a level sufficient to maintain financial resilience and gap-closing ability throughout economic cycles.”

The county issues short-term tax anticipation notes each year to help cover operating expenses before property taxes are collected. 

The increase in the county’s rainy-day fund significantly reduced the county’s need to secure temporary loans by 36 percent, from $70 million in 2016 to an estimated $45 million in 2017.

DeKalb County’s 2017 fiscal year ended on Dec. 31, 2017, with nearly two months of operating revenue in its tax fund balance. The county’s tax fund balance, or rainy-day fund, increased by 52 percent or $27.8 million, from $53.2 million in 2016 to $81.1 million in 2017.  

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