Moody’s awards Oklahoma County impressive credit review

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OKLAHOMA COUNTY - In the midst of a budget crisis, Oklahoma County received some good news.

Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman is positively giddy over Moody's recent review of the financial state of the county's credit.

Moody's has updated the credit report for Oklahoma's largest county, and the report is glowing.

The five-page report notes the county's healthy financial position, good solid economic profile, immense tax base and light debt burden as reasons for the current rating.

"I love the rating, but I really love the words they use to justify the rating," Freeman said.

Moody's uses a 21-tier rating system, from Aaa to C (default).

Click here to read Moody's credit report for Oklahoma County.

Freeman says Oklahoma County has not been extensively reviewed since 2012.

"We got the second highest credit rating that Moody's gives. The second highest is Aa1," said Freeman.

The county stands on solid financial footing, even though there is no talk of borrowing money.

In fact, the last time Oklahoma County voters passed a bond issue was 2008; $88 million to buy the GM plant in Midwest City and improve flood zones in Deer Creek and Crutcho areas.

The updated rating report is great news for when the county borrows again.

"It was not long ago we were getting negative outlooks because of the uncertainty with oil and because of what was happening with the price of oil," said Freeman. "So, I'm encouraged by that."

The economy in Oklahoma County is stronger than most counties around the state, which have AA2 ratings. In fact, Oklahoma County is stronger than most counties around the country.

Moody's comment points out that the Oklahoma economy will remain challenged as long as the oil price downturn continues.

A favorable Moody's rating means a better interest rate and taxpayer savings for the next time the county passed a bond issue.

The credit rating system accesses a municipality's ability to repay the money it has borrowed. The better the ability to pay, the higher the rating and the less interest on the bond.

Freeman acknowledges the economic outlook around the state has been sobering considering the price of oil.

"There's some light. That light at the end of the tunnel is not necessarily a freight train," said Freeman.