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Rowan County’s bond rating upgraded to AA+

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Fitch Ratings has upgraded Rowan County’s bond rating from AA to AA+, County Manager Aaron Church said Tuesday.

The upgrade indicates Rowan County government is more equipped to meet its financial commitments, which includes debt. The AA+ rating is just below the highest possible level, AAA. The last time Rowan County received an upgrade was in the mid-2000s, Church said.

“This is really, really good news. It’s not something that happens every day or every year or every decade,” Church said. “This is weeks and months and years of hard work.”

Church’s announcement said the rating upgrade came as a result of the county’s “long-term liability burden, superior financial resilience and a stable economy that includes a manufacturing and energy presence.”

Church attributed the upgrade to something more specific — the county Finance Department. Without Finance Director Leslie Heidrick and employees in her department, Church said, the upgrade would not have been possible.

“Leslie and her team work long hours and are some of the brightest and most talented staff in the field,” Church said.

County commissioners also deserve credit for making “judicious decisions” and handling tax dollars responsibly, he said.

With the upgrade, Rowan County will be able to get lower interest rates when it issues bonds, Church said. Bonds will be safer for purchasers, too, he said.

Barbara Ruth Rosenberg, an analyst at Fitch Ratings, said Rowan County is well-positioned to address financial challenges associated with the typical characteristics of an economic downtown. The county consistently demonstrates its ability to generate operating surpluses and maintain ample reserves, Rosenberg said.

County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said he’s proud of how Heidrick and Church are managing the county’s finances.

“It is also clear evidence that the aggressive new framework we’ve been putting in place is bringing badly needed improvements to our local economy while at the same time responsibly managing our county’s debt,” Edds said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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