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.
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.