Kent County celebrates 19th year of being 'financially strong'

KENT COUNTY, MICH. - Kent County is one fiscally sound county, according to two different rating agencies.

Every year since 1999, Kent County has received the highest credit ratings possible. This year, both S&P Global and Moody's Investor Service gave the county the long-term Triple-A credit rankings. There are about 3,140 counties in the United States and Kent County ranks in the top 3-percent for holding a Triple-A ranking.

Credit rankings from these agencies allows local government unites to borrow money at lower interest costs, which in turn, reduces the cost to the average tax payer.

County Administrator and Controller, Daryl Delabbio, says maintaining these ratings is one of his proudest accomplishments in the two decades his worked for Kent County.

"It wasn't easy" Delabbio says. "We had to tighten belts and look at ways to stay financially strong from 2009 to 2013, as the economy struggled. We forged ahead, got through the tough times -- I feel we are even stronger this year."

Delabbio will retire in June of this year and says he is confident the next Administrator will continue the streak.

Delabbio, Board of Commissioners Chair Jim Saalfeld, County Treasurer Ken Parrish and Fiscal Services Director Stephen Duarte met with the rating agencies in New York last week to review the county's financial situation. The ratings they received are comparable to a report card on the county as a whole, Saalfeld says.

The ratings not only take in fiscal strength of the county, but other factors like Board and staff stability and cooperation, economic growth and policies.

"I think the residents of Kent County should feel confident that their elected leaders and staff are delivering services in the most effective and efficient manner," Saalfeld says.

The Kent County also received the highest short-term credit rating from both agencies.

"Having the highest possible rating allows us to pay the least amount of interest possible, in the end saving the public hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Parrish.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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