News Release: Multnomah County earns highest possible credit rating

November 21, 2017

S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investor Service have given Multnomah County’s the highest possible rating — a  AAA score from S&P and Aaa score from Moody’s —for its long-term credit.

The firms cited Multnomah County’s strong budget management, low debt, moderate pension burden, adequate reserves and large and growing tax base from a surging economy.

“We are thrilled to receive the highest rating possible at a time when we are working to replace the Central Courthouse and Health Department headquarters, and extend services to a growing population,’’ said Mark Campbell, Multnomah County's chief financial officer.

Chief Financial Officer Mark Campbell

In a Nov. 17, 2017 letter,  S&P Global upgraded the County’s rating to AAA from AA+ to reflect the county’s improved market values and incomes, “coupled with the county’s ability to manage through very rapid growth of maintaining strong budgetary performance and flexibility.’’

The ratings reflect:
  • A very strong local economy. The county’s market value grew by 13.6 %, S&P Global said, to $192.9 billion in 2018. Unemployment is at 4.3 percent.
  • Good financial practices. The county has posted operating surpluses for each of the last three years even after adjusting $28.1 million in one-time spending on the Central Courthouse project.
  • Strong reserves. From S&P:  “While the county is self-funding a significant portion of its courthouse and health center capital projects, they have been built into its budget and are not expected to cause a deterioration in fund balance.”
  • Strong access to external liquidity if necessary.
  • An overall net debt at less than 3% of market value.

“This rating reflects the County’s fiscal discipline, validates our staff’s hard work and recognizes our consistent focus on spending taxpayer dollars wisely,’’ said Chair Deborah Kafoury.

S&P Global Ratings Nov. 17, 2017 (21.94 KB)

S&P Global: Multnomah County General Obligation Report (347.17 KB)

Moody's Investors Service Credit Opinion 20 November 2017 (1.18 MB)