Kankakee County Board offices

Kankakee County Board

Kankakee County recently announced that its bond rating by Moody’s improved and is now associated as a positive outlook analysis.

The county’s rating increased from Ba2 to Baa3 which puts the county in “investment grade” status as of July 7, according to a news release from Board Chairman’s Andy Wheeler. A bond rating, similar to an individual’s credit score, is both an indicator of the financial health and planning for the county and also directly tied to interest rates for bonds and other funding mechanisms.

“The improved bond rating provides investors and our citizens an independent affirmation that what we are doing is working, and that we are heading in the right direction,” Wheeler said in the release. “Despite the challenges we faced during the pandemic, the county continues to operate efficiently and be a conservative champion of tax dollars. We are on the right path, and the financial experts agree.”

Moody’s Investors Service provides investors with credit ratings, risk analysis, and research for stocks, bonds, and government entities, according to investopedia.com.

Among other benefits, a higher bond rating saves taxpayers’ dollars and opens up more favorable financing options. The rating costs the county less to do business.

“The rating upgrade shows the teamwork of the county board, elected officials, employees and department heads,” said board member and finance chair Steve Liehr in the news release. “The responsible decisions of those who spend taxpayer dollars allow the county board to maintain a budget, one that wiped out a budget deficit and created a now-positive balance in funds.”

Kankakee County had been in “non-investment status” since 2015, and this upgrade provides investors and county residents evidence of a resurgent financial presence, as well as a positive future prognosis, according to the release.

Key indicators in the improvement are positive balances in the pension, tort, and general funds, elimination of borrowing outside funds for operations, reduction in accounts payable time, dramatically reduced interfund borrowing, and now the improved bond rating.