2 Wall Street Bond Rating Firms Upgrade County's Financial Status

Saying they believe Los Angeles County has finally turned the corner toward fiscal stability, two powerful Wall Street bond rating firms Tuesday upgraded their assessments of the county's financial condition.

Standard & Poor's and Fitch IBCA both changed the county's long-term credit outlook from negative to stable. That means the county could save millions of dollars by doing its annual borrowing at a lower rate of interest, and by floating bonds for the billion-dollar replacement County-USC Medical Center and other capital projects at a more favorable rate, officials said Tuesday.

"These reports are just further proof that Los Angeles County has positively turned the corner in solving financial problems that only three years ago pushed us to the brink of ruin," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who was one of several county officials who traveled to New York recently to lobby for the change.

A third firm, Moody's Investors Service, already had upgraded the county to stable last year, two years after its brush with fiscal insolvency in 1995.

Moody's issued a report Tuesday announcing its increased faith in the county and upgrading its investment ratings for the $850 million that the county plans to borrow to cover operating costs.

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