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Lincoln County is in S&P’s good books

November 21, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

IVANHOE - The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners got some welcome news at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

After taking care of some routine business, the commissioners heard a report from Carolyn Drude, executive vice president of the public finance firm Ehlers, about bids on $4.3 million of general obligation road reconstruction bonds.

The county received six bids offering very good interest rates, according to Drude. The best bid coming from FTN Financial Capital Markets, based in Memphis, Tenn., offering a net interest rate of 1.08 percent, or a net interest cost of $852,000.

Article Photos

Photo by Steve Browne

Carolyn Drude, executive vice president of the public finance firm Ehlers, presented the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners with a plaque from Standard and Poor’s after the bond rating firm upgraded the county to an AA- rating, the second rating increase since October 2011. From left: Drude, County Auditor Kathy Schreurs, County Engineer Lee Amundson, Commissioner Adam Gillund, Commissioner Joan Jagt, Commissioner Don Evers and Commissioner Larry Hansen. Commissioner Curtis Blumeyer was absent.

"This wouldn't happen in any other market," Drude said. "This is really good."

Even better news, in evaluating Lincoln County's bond worthiness, Standard and Poor's upgraded the county to an AA- rating. This came only months after Standard and Poor's upgraded Lincoln County to an A+ rating after the county refinanced two general obligation bonds in October 2011.

The Standard and Poor's report also said the county's rating was raised with "a strong outlook," meaning its expect the rating to remain high or improve in at least the next two years.

The A and AA ratings each have three subdivisions, according to Drude. The AAA rating is the highest and has no divisions. By comparison, the state of Minnesota has an AA+ rating.

"It is very unusual for a county to have an increased bond rating in this short a period," said Commissioner Adam Gillund.

Drude presented the commissioners, County Auditor Kathy Schreurs and County Engineer Lee Amundson with a plaque from Standard and Poor's, something that happens only when a government or private entity's bond rating is increased, or has been previously unrated.

The plaque recognized Lincoln County's stable local economy based on agriculture, an extremely strong market value per capita, strong reserves, low debt burden per capita and a strong tax base.

In other business, the board, acting as the county Ditch Authority, on the recommendation of Environmental Administrator Robert Olsen, approved a public notice of assessments to maintain the repair balance of ditch repair funds for 11 county ditches and six judicial ditches, in amounts ranging from $2,000 for County Ditch 45 to $25,000 for County Ditch 37.

In a separate motion, the board authorized the transfer of a total of $161,000 to seven of 39 individual ditch systems to maintain a positive balance in the repair funds, to be repaid through assessments next year.

The board also authorized the expenditure of up to $10,000 to replace the main courthouse server and install software. The main server contains all financial, real estate and all permanent records.



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