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News and notes from City Hall, Bernalillo County and local politics

Bernalillo County secures top credit ratings

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Bernalillo County’s investments haven’t produced much good news over the last six months.

But that changed this week, when the county learned it will keep its top credit ratings, following a rather painful restructuring of its investment portfolio.

All three major rating agencies have given the county a “AAA” grade, the highest available, according to the county.

The news comes after County Commission Chairwoman Debbie O’Malley, County Manager Tom Zdunek and Deputy County Manager of Finance Teresa Byrd meet with the bond-rating agencies in Dallas last week.

O’Malley said that representatives of the rating agencies asked detailed questions and Byrd offered up pages and pages of spreadsheets.

“I think it made a difference,” O’Malley said.

The county recently sold securities at a loss of about $15.7 million as part of a plan to restructure its investment portfolio. The goal was to avoid even steeper losses and to ensure that enough cash was on hand to pay bills.

The county also hired a new financial adviser and adopted a new investment policy.

The high bond ratings are expected to help the county borrow money for capital projects at a better interest rate.

“These top credit ratings are significant accomplishments during difficult economic times,” O’Malley said in a written statement. “The Board of Commissioners has worked hand-in-hand with the county management for several months to strengthen our financial policies and move the county forward. It’s rewarding to see that the hard work has paid off.”

 

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