Standard Poors raises Mower County bond rating
By Tim Ruzek
Post-Bulletin, Austin MN
Mower County is looking for a great deal on a $10 million loan after qualifying for a high bond rating related to its justice center.
Standard & Poors, a major provider of independent credit ratings, gave the county an AA bond rating on its ability to repay loans for the upcoming project that is expected to involve two bond issues.
"That’s extremely good news," Finance Director Donna Welsh told the Mower County Board on Tuesday.
Mower County initially scored an A bond rating, which is considered of "good" investment quality, Welsh said. After collecting data and visiting personally with bond raters, the county increased to an AA rating or "very strong," she said.
On Tuesday, the board voted to authorize Welsh to sign a prospectus, or summary of what investors will be buying from the county with the bonds.
Board members on Dec. 4 likely will vote on whether to officially issue a $10 million lease-revenue bond through the county’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said Welsh, who considers that vote to be the deciding factor on the justice center being built.
The bonding would be the first loan to help pay for the justice center, which is estimated to cost nearly $36 million.
Funds from the proposed $10 million bond only could be used for court-related facilities, not for a new jail, Welsh has said.
Another bond issuance next year, if the board approves construction bids, would cover the jail portion.
County leaders hope to trim the project’s cost closer to their $30 million budget cap, which included using $3 million in county funds and bonding or borrowing for the rest.