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2 Firms Give County High Bonds Ratings

Two New York bond-rating firms assigned high ratings Tuesday to $154,645,000 of Ventura County pension obligation bonds scheduled to be sold before the end of the year, officials said.

Moody’s Investors Service gave the county an A1 rating, while Standard & Poor’s assigned an AA-, said Thomas O. Mahon, the county’s auditor-controller.

Money from the bonds will be used to cover the county’s unfunded liability in its retirement system, estimated at more than $153 million. The financing will reduce the county’s annual contribution to the retirement system, which includes nearly 10,000 current and former county employees.

Last year, the county contributed $17.6 million to the retirement system, officials said.

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In issuing its rating, Moody’s credited the county with maintaining strong financial reserves despite state budget cutbacks.

“The county’s willingness to make budget cuts and actively manage health-care expenditures have helped maintain reserves,” the firm noted.

Mahon said the high bond ratings will help save the county money because it means that the bonds can be sold at a lower interest rate. He said the ratings, combined with excellent market conditions, could save the county as much as $18 million over the 12 1/2-year life of the bonds.


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